Putin Wants A Crackdown On Vaping And Smoking

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Leaders in Russia are proposing a major crackdown on tobacco and nicotine products that would put an environmental tax on cigarettes while greatly restricting vaping devices.

The country’s Ministry of Health released a draft of proposed regulations to rein in tobacco use in Russia, where an estimated 40 percent of the population are active smokers. The five-year tobacco control plan includes banning smoking in nearly all public areas, including bus stops and shopping centers, while also placing greater restrictions on the use of vapor and hookah products, reports Newsweek.

Electronic cigarette use would be banned under the new tobacco plan in coffee shops, restaurants and other public dining areas. The proposal also calls for an environmental tax to be placed on combustible cigarettes. Smoking tobacco was not restricted in Russia until 2014, when officials enacted the country’s first crackdown on public tobacco use.

Russian media outlets are reporting the regulations are already creating division among lawmakers in the country, where tobacco control remains a contentious subject. While Russian President Vladimir Putin abstains from smoking, the country still has one of the highest smoking rates in the world.

Until 2014, smoking cigarettes was still permitted in offices, restaurants, bars and airports, as well as on public transportation like buses and trains.

With smoking killing nearly half a million Russians each year, it seems inadvisable to restrict products like electronic cigarettes that drastically cut health risks to the user. Recently announced tobacco control plans from other global powers are embracing the harm reduction potential of vaping.

The U.K.’s Department of Health released a policy paper on e-cigarettes July 18, backing the devices as a useful tool to quit smoking and eliminate second-hand risks to the public. The Department’s Five Year Tobacco Control plan aims to bring the smoking rate down from 15.5 percent to 12 percent by the end of 2022.

The report states that the government wants to “minimize the risk of harm” to the smoker and those around them by “maximizing the availability of safer alternatives to smoking.”

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