Russian parliament ratifies anti-smoking convention

By RIA Novosti

Moscow : State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, Friday ratified a global convention against smoking that is said to claim some five million lives annually.

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“By 2030, tobacco smoking will become one of the strongest factors leading to early deaths,” Deputy Health Minister Yury Voronin said before the ratification.

Voronin urged measures to curb smoking and cited the World Health Organisation (WHO) forecasts that by 2020, 10 million people a year could die of smoking-related diseases.

The head of the State Duma healthcare committee said the ratio of smokers and non-smokers in Russia is twice as high as that in Western Europe, and up to 500,000 people die of smoking-related diseases in the country every year.

Olga Borzova earlier said Russia could pass a national strategy against smoking, which would comply with the WHO convention requirements, this year.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is designed to make it easier for national governments to implement tobacco controls, including a ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship. Such steps could prevent millions of people from picking up the smoking habit.

Under the convention, tobacco advertising should be banned completely within five years from its ratification, and heath warnings should occupy at least 30 percent of cigarette packaging within years.

Under the FCTC, countries are also encouraged to raise taxes on tobacco producers, eliminate the illicit trade in tobacco products, ban tobacco sales to and by minors, and promote agricultural diversification and alternative livelihoods for tobacco producers.

In recent years, tobacco producers have shifted their focus on the developing world, where about 70 percent of tobacco is now consumed.

A total of 172 countries are signatories to the FCTC, which was adopted in 2003. Russia’s government approved a draft law to join the global treaty this January.

In a report on global tobacco control efforts in February, the WHO urged greater commitment from countries in implementing key tobacco control measures.

It said among other things, national governments collect 500 times more money in tobacco taxes each year, than they spend on anti-tobacco efforts.