Comment today from Dmitry Kosyrev in Russia:
…we’ve got news here, in Russia. In March there was an annual report of the Human Rights commissioner to the President. The end of the chapter 2.5 says that our anti-smoking law is a clear breach of human rights and should be reviewed and amended. Something to cheer us all up, right?
I waited for the officilal English translation to find its way to the Ombudsman’s English website, there is still none, thought it’s very much there in Russian. So maybe you want to see my very unofficilal and not-so-British translation of that piece…
So this is how it looks –
From the 2016 Report of the Russian Ombudsman for Human Rights to the President of Russia, ch. 2.5.
The ability to reach a public consensus is the basic indication of a healthy nation. The ongoing fight for a healthy way of life has demonstrated that we are having problems with being a healthy nation.
The harm of smoking does not require discussion. But the 2014 law “On safeguarding of public health from the effects of environmental tobacco smoke and the consequences of tobacco consumption” had from the very start leaned exclusively towards limitations of rights of the smoking citizens. According to various estimates, there are more than 30 million of such citizens in Russia, constituting a significant part of adult population. Their elementary rights have not been taken into account at the drafting of that law. As a result, the law does not contain the minimal necessary range of rights of smokers, such as would not be encroaching on the rights of non-smokers.
The result is the predictable discontent of both smokers and non-smokers, since the law, being based on bans and limitations, irritates one group of population and does not meet expectations of the other group.
As a reaction to the “excesses” of the anti-smoking law the public discussion has been started on the need of rebalancing the situation, on correcting the basic bans that irritate the smoking citizens and softening the potential factors of social discontent.
In the year 2015 the smoking community has been actively discussing the following proposals:
= Designation of the special places for smoking in the airports, as well as the smoking carriages on the trains (the idea being supported by the Russian Airports Associations and the Railways of Russia Corporation).
= Amendment of the order of establishing the smoking rules at the workplaces (the Federation of the Independent Trade Unions of Russia promotes the idea of transferring the right of decision on that matter to the joint trilateral committees of employers, employees and the trade unions).
= Loosening the bans on smoking in restaurants and hotels (the Federation of Hoteliers and Restaurateurs is in favor of legislating the smoker’s restaurants and designating special places for smoking in all and any hotels and other such places).
Numerous other well-founded proposals are under discussion.
We deem necessary the reviewing of the results of implementation of the current law and passing of the necessary amendments to it.
The report have been presented to the President on March 25, 2016. The English version will be published on the website http://eng.ombudsmanrf.org/ . All in all, the document is devastating, notably on the subject of income inequality and taxation and the rest of related subjects.
The ombudsman is a lady, Ella Pamfilova, used to be a minister in the first Russian reformist governments in early 1990-s and a prominent politician afterwards. On March 27 she had been appointed head of national Election Committee, which is a promotion, especially before the September elections to the Parliament.
Asked what chance there was of the law being amended, he replied:
…it’s hard to say. We are having a new Parliament after the September election. We know that the most ugly anti-smoking lobbyists have been disowned by their own parties since bans are very unpopular with the public. But we still do not know the overall picture, like who will be elected, who will vote for or against.
On the brighter side I may say that the general mood has changed. The failure of the bans is obvious, as many people predicted (nobody observes them). The clever ones are scuttling crab-fashion from that topic. The idiots who are still in, are hysterical, demanding new bans. We (the Smoker’s Rights Movement) are slowly inserting the right ideas into the public, so now the public or at least a part of it knows that this is a failed project of an ugly foreign medical lobby (yes, a bit of xenofobia is good for you, especially if it is based on real facts).
All in all we are moderately optimistic, but are ready for a long fight.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an ombudsman like that in the UK? Can you imagine it? Can you imagine anyone saying that the elementary rights of smokers hadn’t been taken into account in the UK smoking ban?
Nope. I can’t imagine it either.