Russia is amongst the leading countries in the world with high tobacco consumption. Up to 400 billion cigarettes are manufactured per year in Russia and these find a ready market in a country were 60% of men smoke. Women smokers in Russia have been raising since 1991 when the Soviet Union collapses.
Altogether up to 350 000 people die in Russia each year due to smoking related illnesses. The cost of smoking to the economy of Russia certainly runs into billions of dollars annually. Research across the world has shown that people who smoke have a high rate of absenteeism. This steals prime productivity time away from the economy which is equivalent to billions of dollars.
The cost of smoking to a country such as Russia will also be linked to the cost of looking after those who fall ill due to smoking. Smoking diseases such as cancers and respiratory infections severely eats into national health budgets of countries with millions of smokers such as Russia.
At least for Russia, the leaders have come out condemning smoking calling it a tragedy for the nation. This is hardly the case in developing countries where leaders can not openly shame smoking due to fears of revenues drying up. This is particularly the case in China where 350million smokers contributes up to 8% in tax income to national coffers.
In June 2010 it was reported that Russia was introducing compulsory “Smoking Kills” signs on cigarette packaging. In addition packaging will also indicate the dangers of smoking such as cancers, wrinkles and impotence amongst men. The government of Russia through the ministry of finance is also aiming to increase tobacco taxes fully by 2011 as a way of Best pipe tobacco discouraging smoking. Tobacco taxes have been shown to be very effective in reducing the numbers of people who smoke.
In fact there are two leading reasons why people who smoke stop smoking namely the fear of diseases associated with smoking and the financial burden of continued smoking. In Japan in particular the government there has evidently been able to cut back on smoking by simply increasing taxes. Smoking in Russia is so serious it is predicted should the trend continue the population will shrink from 142 million in 2010 to about 116 million in 2050.
As is the case in many other countries, the tragedy in Russia is that the government is still putting a lot more emphasis on reducing smoking cigarettes. Big tobacco appears to have since devised new strategies to get many more people hooked on smoking especially the young people. The new frontiers of the tobacco fight are now smokeless tobacco which is mostly chewing tobacco. As governments concentrate on eradicating smoking tobacco tobacco companies are intensifying chew tobacco advertising.
It would appear the message about the dangers of smoking has be heard. What is still missing is understanding the dangers of smokeless tobacco such as chew tobacco. This is the new area that Russia will need to vigorously oppose if progress is to made against tobacco use overall.