I remain rather fascinated by the discovery that the Russian smokers’ movement has become an international movement, with 21 countries attending their recent conference.
Today I found a report on a third purely-Russian conference earlier this year (Google translation again).
Moscow hosted the III Congress of the Movement for Rights smokers
Published May 19, 2014
May 16, 2014 in Moscow hosted the III All-Russian Congress of the movement for the rights of smokers . In the framework of the Congress Movement has summed up the collection of signatures in support of the anti-smoking legislation changes. According to the results of a large-scale campaign smokers send a letter to the President of the Russian Federation VV Putin with 103,557 signatures, both smoking and non-smoking citizens from more than 500 localities in Russia from Kaliningrad to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.
Petition to amend the Federal Law “On protection of public health from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and the consequences of tobacco consumption” has six main points. Among them – the restoration of isolated smoking areas in hotels, hostels, airports, railway stations, long-distance trains, river and sea vessels; regulation of the issue of smoking in the workplace, with the participation of representatives of employers, workers and trade union committee; preservation of bars, restaurants and cafes, where smoking is allowed, and others.
In support of the initiatives of the Movement has expressed an honored guest of the Congress, honored lawyer of the Russian Professor Michael Barschevsky : “In my memory, this anti-smoking law in the part in which it comes into force on June 1, – probably the most discriminating of those that I have seen. When it comes to the ban on tobacco advertising, the fact that tobacco products are not sold at the checkout in the supermarket, I can understand that. I can understand those who are trying to prevent youth smoking. But when the law was adopted, which, in essence, the law on genocide smokers – this I can not understand. The main thing is that he – a pointless and will not be executed. The cynicism of this law lies in the fact that people accept it, understand this. Movement is today millions of smokers express public opinion. So I hope that our legislators will listen to you, at least in part draconian and unreasonable restrictions, which will be introduced from June 1 ” . Regulation Petitions also supported visited Congress Honored Artist of the Russian Federation Nikas Safronov , master of the game “What? Where? When? ” Alexander Druz , journalist Olga Beklemischeva , writer Dmitry Kosirev and poet Alexei Alekhine . Honored Artist of the Russian Federation Nikas Safronov : “If people are already accustomed to tobacco smoke can not deny it. Need a culture of education, so as not to start smoking a new generation. In addition, smoking in our culture – it is a whole layer. Break the already established traditions – all the same, that cut down the vineyards. If people continue to smoke, you need to at least train them to do it right ” . Earlier sign the petition called on famous artists, politicians and public figures: Andrei Makarevich, Vladimir Vishnevsky, Garik Sukachev, Valery Sjutkin Arkady Arcana, Andrew Zhitinkin Leonid Zhukhovitsky, Gennady Seleznev. One of the points of the petition concerning the regulation of smoking in the workforce, also supported by representatives of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia converts to April 2014, an open letter to the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation DA Medvedev and Chairman of the State Duma of the SE Naryshkin. Deputy Chairman of the primary trade union organization “Uralvagonzavod” Eugene Lutokhin noted at the Congress: “We have a huge manufacturing plants: for example, a foundry, which I headed 10 years, roughly equal in size 5 football fields. In a change in this shop operates 600 people. Of them – half of smokers. By law, the worker, no matter where it is, it is necessary to leave the shop, move, smoke and come back. Such an approach violates the labor process. In large enterprises, it is important that the production worked rhythmically, manufactured products in the right quantity, quality. This requires precise organization of the labor process, discipline and the ability for a person to meet their needs, including a smoking ” . Deputy General Director of “Aksai Metallurgical Company” (production holding “South-Met”, Rostov-on-Don) Vladimir Podlepenets : “anti-smoking law, we do not work and never will not work. Smoking among workers in manufacturing – about 60-80%. Even before the adoption of the law, we have tried in 2010 to combat smoking: banned all smoking in the office, in the shop, on the street smoking room built by the workers. A week later – a huge number of patients: a man working near the stove, ran into the street in the cold season … Those who have been at work, may submit Behold, I come to a person working near the smelter, and tell him to smoke harmful. Do you think he will understand me ?! As a result, we do not allow smoking only in dangerous places. Generally, when I first read this law, my first thought was: “They wanted the best, but it turned out as always.” The greater the force a person to quit the force, the more he will want to smoke. Act in such a way as it is now, never will not work ” . The congress has been updated governing the Movement: extended powers co-chairs of Mikhail Boyarsky , Beklemischevoy Olga and Mikhail Leontiev and elected new co-chairs – Gennady Seleznev and Alexander Druz . Executive Director of the Movement was approved by Andrew Rags . soon Movement finalize collected signature lists and send them with a covering letter to the reception of the President of the Russian Federation VV Putin, as well as begin with the development of the legal text of the amendments to the Federal Law “On protection of public health from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and the effects of tobacco use” in accordance with paragraphs Petitions.
With Russia having had a smoking ban in force since 1 June (and a milder one since 2013), how come such a powerful smokers’ movement has emerged so rapidly in Russia? My best guess is that, throughout the Cold War era, Russians weren’t receiving the sort of antismoking indoctrination that more or less every adult in the West was getting. They’ve not had 60 years of conditioning. It’s probably only in the last 20 years that they’ve been getting any antismoking indoctrination, and 20 years isn’t enough to beat you into cowed compliance. This, and the fact that Russian male smoking prevalence is about 60%, so that there are some 40 million Russian smokers, was always likely to ensure a strong resistance.
But how come it’s also gone international so rapidly? Again, the answers may lie in history. During the Cold War era, Moscow was Communism’s Mecca, and it had contacts and channels all over the world. Most of these communication channels probably still exist. So using these channels, they were able to begin to build a world smokers’ International movement. Of the 21 countries represented, I note that over half were from countries which were either in the old Eastern Bloc, or had large Communist parties. That said, the principal figures in the Russian Smokers’ Rights movement don’t appear to be in the least bit Communist in their sympathies.
And I was thinking today that it would be supremely ironic if Moscow were to become a beacon of freedom in the struggle for Smokers’ Rights, and Europe’s 150 million oppressed smokers began to look eastwards to Russia for their liberation. The world would have truly been turned upside down. Even even if Vladimir Putin really is an antismoking healthist, I’m not sure that he could resist such a golden opportunity to turn the tables on the West, and make Russia into the Voice of Freedom, and start, say,… Berlin-airlifting cheap cigarettes into Europe.
Because I’m still betting that the Russian smoking ban won’t last very long. There are too many smokers there, and it’s too cold in winter, and – as we have seen – they’ve rapidly organised.