PanARMENIAN.Net - In February 2013, a tough new bill passed by parliament banned smoking in Russia from restaurants, long-distance trains and housing block entrance halls under. It is now expected to be passed by the upper chamber and signed off by President Vladimir Putin.
Russia has one of the highest smoking rates in the world, with more than four in 10 Russians considered smokers. If, as expected, the bill becomes law, the first new restrictions will come into force on 1 June.
On that date, smoking will be banned within 15m (yds) of entrances to stations, airports, metro stations and ports; in workplaces; in entrances to apartment blocks; and in children's playgrounds and on beaches.
Exactly one year later, smoking will be banned on long-distance trains and ships; in hotels; in restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and markets; and on suburban railway platforms.
Under the bill, a minimum retail price will be set for tobacco and its sale and advertising will be restricted. The legislation meets some of the recommendations outlined in a World Health Organization report on smoking in Russia published in 2011.
According to that report, the retail price of a pack of 20 of the cheapest brand of cigarettes in 2010 was 11 roubles (£0.23; $0.36; 0.27 euros) while a popular Western brand sold for 48 roubles (£1; $1.6; 1.2 euros), foreign media report.
Is it necessary to introduce a similar law in Armenia?
Physicians, human rights defenders and business community in general, positively estimate this draft law, although remind about violation of 44 million smokers’ rights during implementation of government’s anti tobacco course, and insist on public discussion of the document, PMI representative said.
Human rights defenders believe that Russia has taken the right direction on nation health improvement. These measures correspond to the practice of foreign developed countries, where special areas are designed for the smokers, and the population maintains a healthy lifestyle).
A representative of Philip Morris Armenia LLC, Philip Morris International (PMI) affiliate, shared views on Armenia’s regulations in tobacco sector with PanARMENIAN.Net .
Philip Morris Armenia LLC (PMA) is an affiliate of Philip Morris International (PMI), and PMA position on tobacco regulation is the following: because cigarette smoking is addictive and causes serious diseases in smokers, tobacco products should be marketed responsibly. PMA supports clear and enforceable regulation of tobacco marketing and advertising, including bans on certain types of advertising, such as television, radio and billboard. Some communications are both appropriate and necessary in a competitive market. Manufacturers should have the ability to communicate with adult consumers about products in places where cigarettes are sold. Public health objectives can be met while still allowing adult smokers to receive information about the different brands that are available to them. Our intention is to work cooperatively and constructively to achieve effective and practical tobacco control legislation and to address issues that are of legitimate concern to both governments and consumers.
Is it possible to resolve the smoking problem by a simple ban?
Simple ban on public smoking or marketing of tobacco products will not resolve the smoking problem. We believe that the conclusions of public health officials on the health effects of second-hand smoke warrant restrictions on public place smoking, including bans in many locations. A balance should be struck, however, between the desire to protect non-smokers, especially minors, from exposure to second-hand smoke, and allowing the millions of people who smoke to do so in some public places.
Tobacco products should be marketed and sold to adults only. While we do not agree that marketing causes people to smoke, we have been a strong advocate for regulations that restrict the advertising and promotion of tobacco products, including complete bans in some media, such as television, radio and billboards.
We do not support complete bans on tobacco advertising and marketing. On this point we disagree with the World Health Organization and the FCTC. The ability for manufacturers to market their products to adult smokers is fundamental to vigorous competition and we believe it is important for adult smokers to be able to receive information on the available product range and on their preferred product choice. In our view, regulations can strike the right balance between effectively limiting tobacco product marketing and preserving the ability of tobacco companies to communicate with adult smokers.
Is tobacco advertising prohibited by Armenia’s legislation?
Armenia has a well-established legislative framework which regulates how cigarette brands are marketed to adult smokers. In essence, over the last few years certain types of tobacco advertising via TV, radio and outdoor have been banned, and cigarette advertising became restricted to the points of sale and magazines, whose readership is of legal age.
How well does Armenian legislation defend non smokers’ rights?
The law on sale, consumption and use restriction of tobacco Armenia prohibits smoking in educational, cultural, health institutions, recreation and entertainment facilities designed for persons under the age of 18; in public transport and public vehicles, airport terminals, bus and train stations; in restaurants, cafes and other pubic catering organizations there may be separated territories, sectors, zones for smoking. In organizations and institutions smoking is permitted only in designated smoking areas and in individual closed work areas.
The law on administrative violation code defines certain penalties for violations, but current legislation does not define authorized body to control compliance with these requirements. PMA believes that it is necessary to consider not only the rights of non smokers, but also those who smoke. The company believes that smoking should be prohibited in hospitals, schools, public transport and other public areas, where people have to attend. However, visitors to restaurants, bars, cafes and discos must have right of choice.
How is the sale tobacco products to minors controlled?
The Law on sale, consumption and use restriction of tobacco Armenia prohibits selling tobacco products to persons under the age of 18 and by persons under the age of 18. The Law on administrative violation code defines certain penalties for violations, but current legislation does not define authorized body to control compliance with these requirements.
We do not want kids to smoke. Cigarettes are only for adults who have chosen to smoke. Since PMI established its representative office in Yerevan in 1995, each PMI cigarette pack sold in Armenia has been bearing a warning “Sale to underage prohibited”. For the last 7 years PMA carries out the youth smoking prevention retail access program in around 2,500 retail outlets in Armenia. Under the program PMA employees visit retailers, educate them on Armenian legislative requirements and minimum age law, which prohibits selling tobacco products to people under the age of 18. In 2013 we will continue our efforts in this direction.