Anyone born in 2015 or later may be banned from ever buying cigarettes in their lifetime, according to drastic new plans being considered by the Russian Health Ministry.
The proposed ban would mean that the youngest generation of Russians would never learn the habit of smoking while growing up. Under these new restrictions, the government plans to treat buying cigarettes as harshly as buying illegal drugs.
“The goal is absolutely ideologically correct,” a member of the Russian government’s health committee told The Times. The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, said that further discussions would need to take place before the ban could be enforced.
Others fear that the ban might cause a rise in counterfeit cigarettes, fuelling a black market. “Counterfeit tobacco could lead to even more harm to people’s health,” said Elena Topoleva-Soldunova, a Russian social policy advisor.
Smoking has been forbidden in most public places in Russia since 2013. Adverts for smoking are totally prohibited. But cigarettes and tobacco are widely available in the Communist state, where a packet of cigarettes can be bought for as cheaply as $1 (60p).
This is not the first time the Russian government has considered drastic new smoking restrictions: in 2015, it planned to all women under 40 and mothers with young children from buying cigarettes. Only 17 per cent of Russian women currently smoke, compared with 51 per cent of men.
Nearly 400,000 Russians die from health problems related to smoking each year. Smoking is traditionally popular in Russia, where up to 40 per cent of the population have taken up the habit – one of the highest rates of smokers anywhere in the world.