Russia has one of the highest smoking rates in the world at an estimated 40 percent of adults being active smokers, and Vladimir Putin famously despises anyone who smokes. In fact, according to an article in Newsweek, Putin regularly ridicules one of his top diplomats Sergei Lavrov for his refusal to kick the habit. So, the Russian dictator is apparently deciding to take a more aggressive approach by announcing a 5-year plan that will place heavy restrictions on both smoking and vaping.
Currently, a pack of cigarettes in the Kremlin costs about four times less expensive than they do in America, and Putin has included a massive environmental tax on all tobacco products as part of his proposal. And much like the FDA and other public health organizations in the United States, Vlad seems to consider vaping and smoking to be one-in-the-same.
So, according to the report, flavored e-liquids are also under attack. If Putin gets his way, flavored e-cigs will be banned completely from the Russian economy. In the meantime, he wants to prohibit their use in all designated areas where smoking is currently illegal, which includes shopping centers, bus stops, and in personal vehicles when a child is traveling inside.
Meanwhile, since 2014, smoking has already been banned on commuter trains, ships, restaurants, bars, and even the stairwells of apartment buildings and housing facilities. But there is no specific law banning vaping in these areas. Putin’s 5-year plan will make vaping illegal, too.
Russian Parliament split on Putin proposal
The mere mention of Vladimir Putin puts many American’s on edge. But to be fair to the Russian President, about half a million of his citizens die every year from smoking-related illnesses. It wasn’t until the 1990s when the President Bill Clinton began instituting huge sin taxes on tobacco products that the U.S. smoking rates began to decline steadily.
The current average price of a pack of cigarettes in Russian fluctuates around 90 rubles or about $1.47. The Putin proposal to increase taxation on tobacco products makes sense among many in his Parliament, but his co-targeting of vaping is drawing considerable debate in his own parliament.
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According to a Russian newspaper Parlamentskaya Gazeta, votes for and against the 5-year plan are somewhat evenly split. After all, even Russians have heard about the UK College of Physicians’ claim that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking.
Putin also wants to eventually include legislation that would make the purchasing of smoking and vaping products illegal for citizens born after 2014, which might one day make both completely illegal. Until 2014, smoking was still legal in the workplace, in airports, and even bars and restaurants.
Russian smoking laws and tobacco taxation regulations may be decades behind those of the United States, but if the reports are true, Putin wants to play catch-up by implementing his aggressive 5-year proposal. Unfortunately, vaping seems to be caught in the crossfire…at least, for now.
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