Guest post by Dmitry Kosyrev

There were still no smoking rooms in the Domodedovo airport near Moscow when I was flying away from Russia in early January, but soon they’ll be reopened after seven years’ absence. The amendment to the anti-smoking law has passed both chambers of the Russian parliament and signed by the President on December 28, last year. All that time we, hundreds of people participating in the battle, were keeping our fingers crossed, for fear of some last-minute trouble.

That was a very, very small victory over the huge Tobacco Control machine. But, nevertheless, a victory it was, and, as such, it’s worth a serious study.

Only one man, an MP Mr. Sergey Boyarsky, had authored the relevant amendment. The name Boyarsky is famous all over the land, since Sergey’s father,

Michail Boyarsky, is a revered actor, loved for his role of chevalier d’Artagnan from a movie of the 1970-s. To put it simply, Michail has created a living symbol of a real man and a true warrior for several generations of Russians.

Mr. Boyarsky Sr. is also the honorary President of our all-Russia Movement for Smoker’s Rights. His son is not even a member of the movement. But he is an MP from the ruling United Russia party.

First thing to note in that smoking-room plot is the length of the battle. The Battle of Stalingrad in 1942 was evolving much faster. It took only 8 months to break the back of Hitler’s military might and reverse the course of the whole Second World War. But in the smoking room’s case I’ve heard from reliable sources that “the general consensus have been reached, we’ll open them again” more than a year before the amendment had been finally accepted by the low chamber. And there were also months of fighting the TC before that consensus. The amendment was getting out of the schedule of debates again and again. But it kept getting itself back.

Second thing to keep in mind was Sergei’s non-confrontational tactics. I myself was hopping mad, participating in numerous TV & radio shows on the matter, when Sergey’s face was emerging again on the screens via Skype. I gave up smoking long ago, he was saying. Smoking is bad, he was asserting. But the airports is a special case, we are talking about international norms and customs, broken by the 2013 “the strictest anti-smoking law in the world”. We are not talking about a wholesale murder of that law, Sergei was claiming, but only about correcting certain excesses of it.

Now, if I was an MP, I’d have said that the whole law had to be scrapped, and the lying, inhuman bastards of the TC were to be investigated and maybe jailed. I want a complete denormalization of anti-smoking, not just the airports, I was saying when given the word on the same shows.

But I know well enough that I had no chance of winning all the needed MP votes this way, if I was in Boyarsky’s chair.

I’ve willingly played my role of an extremist in these debates, making Sergey look soft, compromise-prone and realistic against my background. So, we, Russians, are still too willing to follow the general “international trend” on that matter and not ready to step out of the line.

The people voting for the amendment consisted of two categories. The first category thinks just like me, knowing in detail that we are dealing with a huge scam. The second category is not in favor of smoking, but knows well that the bans do not work and create a lot of problems, like dozens of commuters smoking in the airport’s toilets.

It’s common knowledge that several provincial airports never closed their smoking rooms, laws be damned. These were been closed for a short while only when yet another inspection was about to descend on them, and so the inspectors were warning their friends at the airports. The same relates to many other bans, all over the country. The nation is blocking the “bandits” very efficiently.

So, let us look at the third conclusion from our battle experience. The people firmly standing with Sergey all this time were the managers of all the airports of Russia, and also several ministries relentlessly blocking a lot of yet new bans proposed by the Health ministry. In the end, it was they who won the battle, cutting the TC lobby down to size.

And here we have the most precious lesson of the whole story: you can defeat the TC bastards if you have patience and endurance. Their defeat may seem small, but a defeat it is. That’s an event of global importance.

You had to see their desperation and fury at the very fact that the parliament was going to make a step back in fighting smoking, when them, the TC frontpeople, were offering a whole new array of further steps to humiliate millions of smokers. They spoke, they foamed at the mouth, they blasted the Boyarsky’s amendment – and still they lost. So we all know by now they are not all-powerful.

It’s really important for them, the bastards, to move forward, not backward.

If they don’t move forward, their effort is useless. And so every small victory of ours is not so small, after all.

About Frank Davis

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  1. beobrigitte says:

    There were still no smoking rooms in the Domodedovo airport near Moscow when I was flying away from Russia in early January, but soon they’ll be reopened after seven years’ absence. The amendment to the anti-smoking law has passed both chambers of the Russian parliament and signed by the President on December 28, last year.
    A statement displaying a slight hint of green colour on my face: There are politicians with a backbone in Russia. I wish I could say the same for any of our politicians.

    The people firmly standing with Sergey all this time were the managers of all the airports of Russia, and also several ministries relentlessly blocking a lot of yet new bans proposed by the Health ministry. In the end, it was they who won the battle, cutting the TC lobby down to size.
    I’m not sure if the TC lobby was cut down to size but at least it encountered serious opposition in powerful positions!

    And here we have the most precious lesson of the whole story: you can defeat the TC bastards if you have patience and endurance. Their defeat may seem small, but a defeat it is. That’s an event of global importance.
    I think so, too. It takes ONE SINGLE country to mount an effective opposition to the TC lobby to start a land slide. I have a glimmer of hope for us over here again – at least for now.

  2. smokingscot says:

    My understanding is the real force behind your smoking ban was Dmitry Medvedev. If so then it is indeed fitting a part of it goes as he and his faction lose some of their power.

    Taken a look at Mikhail Mishustin and nothing comes up about him smoking, nor his views on it or the ban. However he is an ice hockey enthusiast, so he will have knowledge of teamwork and what his mates did to unwind after a big win.

  3. Frank Davis says:

    Is this a coincidence? BBC

    15 Jan 2020

    Russia’s government has resigned, hours after President Vladimir Putin proposed sweeping constitutional changes that could prolong his stay in power.

    If approved by the public, the proposals would transfer power from the presidency to parliament.

    Mr Putin is due to step down in 2024 when his fourth term of office comes to an end.

    But there is speculation he could seek a new role or hold on to power behind the scenes.

    Mr Putin put forward his plans in his annual state of the nation address to lawmakers. Later, in an unexpected move, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that the government was resigning to help facilitate the changes.

    • Dmitry says:

      Well, that IS a coincidence. We have to see what happens to the most unpolular of all the minsitries, Health. And, yes, Medvedev was propping the bastards up.

  4. Smoking Lamp says:

    This is good news and a good start. Next reversing the airport smoking bans in the US (especially the recent bans in Atlanta and Salt Lake City). Then time to start reversing outdoor smoking bans and smoking bans in bars. Step by step its time to dismantle the FCTC and end the persecution of smokers.

  5. Smoking Lamp says:

    I just saw this article calling for reversal of wholesale smoking bans: “Have Restaurant Smoking Bans Gone Too Far?” at https://www.eater.com/2020/1/14/21060601/restaurant-smoking-bans-gone-too-far-rediscovery-of-tobacco

    It is an interview with Jacob Grier, author of “The Rediscovery of Tobacco: Smoking, Vaping, and the Creative Destruction of the Cigarette.” https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Y2HYBXG/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1&tag=eater0c-20

    • waltc says:

      The Grier piece turned me off. Starting with the number of times he said how much he hates cigarettes and wouldn’t want to be near cigarette smokers and doubts many restaurants or bars would want to accommodate them anyway and then himself seems to favor cigars. “With friends like these…”

      • Joe L. says:

        I agree that Grier’s personal disdain for cigarettes leaves a bad taste right off the bat. However, he is strongly in favor of relaxing smoking bans and renewing free choice by allowing smokers to regain places to socialize. In the interview, he also mentions the absurdity of the “Helena Heart Attack Miracle”, and how it was used to heighten the fear of secondhand smoke.

        Much akin to Dmitry’s description of MP Sergey Boyarsky in today’s guest post, Grier comes off as relatable to nonsmokers. He’s a nonsmoker who dislikes cigarettes, but he strongly believes the Antismoking movement has gone too far. We don’t need him preaching to the choir. The denormalization of smoking is currently deeply ingrained into society. If he can rationally persuade nonsmokers (and even some mild antismokers) that the discrimination has gone too far, it’s a win for smokers.

        • jaxthefirst says:

          I agree, Joe. I’m not sure that it’s such a bad thing these days that writers like Grier squeeze in the obligatory nod to being a non-smoker or even to holding anti-smoker views, partly because I suspect that if they weren’t in there many of the articles wouldn’t see the light of day, and the writers know this. But it also lends a bit more power to the articles in question, because no-one can turn round and say “Oh, you’re only saying that because you smoke, so of course you’re biased,” (never works the other way round, of course – but I digress ….), so shoehorning those little bits in does stop that argument (usually the first port of call for objecting antis) in its tracks. After all, one of the main features that made the Enstrom & Kabat study so dangerous for antis was that neither scientist was a smoker and thus couldn’t be automatically accused of being biased when the unexpected and unwelcome results started to emerge showing that the hoped-for ETS dangers were in fact negligible at best (or worst, depending on your viewpoint).

          Articles like this are actually really helpful for our cause, possibly precisely because they mention that the writer doesn’t smoke or doesn’t like smoke. I’ve long felt that it was the apathetic lack of support from non-smokers which ultimately really did for smokers – all those non-smoking drinkers and salt-eaters and chocoholics who just sat back and nodded silently from the sidelines. Maybe if they’d objected more strongly to the proposed ban – as concerned non-smokers – politicians wouldn’t have felt so emboldened to impose it, or impose it in its current unfair draconian form. There’s never been a movement in history which has been successfully challenged without non-members of the persecuted group getting behind them and offering support. Without the support of fair-minded men, women would still be stuck at home cooking, cleaning and breeding; without the support of fair-minded white people, apartheid would still be the regime in South Africa and black people would still be sitting in segregated areas in the Southern states of the US; and without the support of concerned straight people, gay sex would probably still be condemned and illegal. So, articles like these carry a lot more weight when they are written by (a) a non-smoker and (b) someone who states that they themselves dislike smoke or smoky environments because all the usual arguments used to brush any criticism of smoking bans aside simply don’t apply. The only arguments that people can come up with are: the fact that they, personally, like smoking bans (pure personal preference never being a very strong argument or wise reason for public policy); accusations of the writer being in the pay of the tobacco industry, which, without proof can only come across as speculations and personal guesswork; or ad hom (“you just want children to die”) attacks which have always been seen as the resort of the person with no valid arguments to offer – Godwin’s Law and all that.

          So, irritating though it is that so many writers criticising the ban and other anti-smoking measures do feel the need to repeat the same old anti-smoking mantras, it is entirely possible that they are aware that if they don’t appear, neither will the article. And they too may see them as a way of strengthening the point they are making and of frustrating the attempts of those who disagree with them from trotting out all the usual old argument. I’ve long thought that many non-smoking writers who do criticise anti-smoking tactics don’t actually believe all the anti-smoking hype in any case, even though they insinuate that they do – they simply know that they have to put them in there to get their article seen. After all, if they really believed all that stuff, why would they object to all the anti-smoking bullying that goes on, or, for that matter, why would they bother to write an article saying how unreasonable and unfair they think it is?

  6. waltc says:

    Good news, no matter how you got there though I also imagine (incorrectly?) that the smoking rate in Russia is higher then in America or Europe and further that even nonsmoking Russians are less phobic by nature as well as more used to secretly defying Government. I also
    like the term “bandits” too–a perfect English pun.

  7. Clicky says:

  8. Joe L. says:

    Great news! Congratulations to Dmitry and all smokers in Russia on this victory! The new year is off to a good start. I’m hoping this starts a domino effect, and I’m more encouraged after reading the article linked by Smoking Lamp above. 2020 could be the year of the revival of free choice!

  9. Dmitry, that is absolutely WONDERFUL news and an INCREDIBLE accomplishment!

    MANY Congratulations to our Russian friends waving the flag of a victory for FREEDOM!


  10. Regarding the percentage of smoking in Russia, I think it might be good to look at this study in the British Medical Journal:


    and consider to what extent the findings may be generalized beyond the subset of female Asian smokers. While that subset may be the most extreme example due to societal views on Asian females who smoke, it is quite possible, even quite LIKELY that the same effect is occurring in a smaller way in the consistent reports we hear about smoking rates going down in other populations around the world in populations where almost everyone has been subjected to a constant massive attack portraying smoking and smokers as monstrous and monsters.

    Antismokers wave the flag of “victory” in pointing to those claimed reduced rates and use that victory to push for more and more of the same methods (taxes, bans, prohibitions in practice and even in media portrayals) to extend those bans and attacks further and further from their new “base” of that victory. Both the general public and even those of us fighting the Antis on a day-to-day basis then fall into the trap of fighting the new demands while simply accepting the Antis’ claims that their old victories are now part of accepted reality and set in cement.

    It is a tactic/strategy aimed at creating a “reality” that doesn’t actually exist (i.e. such things as “Smoking rates are now much lower.” and “No one is hurt economically as a result of these bans.” and “Nonsmokers everywhere are happy with the bans.” and blasting the images of that false reality through the media — over and over again — until it actually DOES become a reality simply because everyone EXPECTS that it is a reality. Here in the US we are seeing it with the current claim that sales of tobacco to those under 21 has been halted and that the only “debate” or “uncertainty” is what happens to those between 18 and 21, such as returning soldiers, who were already smoking at age 18. THIS IS NOT TRUE: Trump has signed a Federal document calling for such sales to stop… but Federal documents ALSO proclaim that marijuana sales are still illegal all over the country despite the fact that about half the States now simply ignore the Federal laws and have allowed various levels of medical and even recreational marijuana sales and/or use in their populations.

    It is similar to the efforts made by authorities in times of rioting, when they will get on the TV and radio news and repeat, over and over:

    “The authorities are handling the problem well. The problems are small and very local with just a few crazy folks making all the noise and trouble. MOST CITIZENS ARE REMAINING CALM AND STAYING INDOORS to listen to our news updates!”

    By repeating that ‘fake news’ over and over, they turn it into ‘real news’ as people tend to simply imitate what they believe everyone else is doing. In the same way, making thousands of headlines stating “More and more people have quit smoking!” and “Nonsmokers everywhere hate the stink of smoke in the air!” The Tobacco Control folks use their massive bankrolls to buy those press-releases and news stories for repetition over and over in order to CREATE a reality where people then quit or prohibit smoking since “everyone else is quitting” or “prohibiting”!

    Additionally… as we should realise from looking at past history in this fight, it has been quite common for years for Antismokers to use the tactic of making outrageous claims while knowing that such claims will mark the extremes … thereby making the real moves they are aiming at for the moment seem more like “reasonable compromises.” What we have seen consistently though is that each and every new victory they achieve is never taken as giving them satisfaction: Instead those victories are treated simply as conquered territory upon which to set up forts from which to launch new attacks. And every setback the Antismokers encounter, no matter how small, will be treated by them as something that needs to be screamed about as indicating a disaster of the imminent complete destruction of all the smoking bans in existence unless their little defeat is immediately “corrected.”

    Dmitry, I am sure you will see this sort of thing happening now in your own fight: The Antismokers will portray your victory as being the first battle in a massive attack by Evil Big Tobacco in a Master Plan to bring smoking back into our grammar school classrooms and have all the children take up smoking “again” unless the airport concession is immediately rolled back!

    Remember the warning given to police and troops and people in battles everywhere: “WATCH YOUR BACK!” — the victory you have won will come under intense attack, so be planning for its defense against that attack.

    MANY best wishes to you! Again, CONGRATULATIONS to you from the US here… the country that used to be called the center of the “Free World.”

    – MJM

    • Dmitry says:

      Thanks, and you are absolutely right. The TC is statistically diminishing our numbers, faking the figures, until… until the moment they need to introduce the nes bans. Then, suddenly, they tell us we are too many. I wrote about it a couple of times.

      • Exactly. The switch-over from a lie to an opposite lie is a classic move they make! They’re not always perfectly parallel “lies” per se, but statements that are clearly counter to each other in other ways. E.G.

        Lie 1: “Our campaign has been wildly successful and smoking’s gone down! Give us $ so we can finish the job!”
        Lie 2: “There’s a sudden resurgence in smoking! Our campaign needs more money to finish the job!”

        Lie 1: “Smokers shouldn’t smoke in front of children because the children will imitate them!”
        Lie 2: “We need to move the smokers out of the back rooms of adult-only bars so they’ll stand outside in full view of the children while they drunkenly party and smoke and flirt and laugh with each other!”

        Lie 1: “Secondhand smoke is worse than firsthand because the smokers have the benefit of their smoke being filtered through the filter!”
        Lie 2: “Filters don’t do anything to protect the smoker so let’s make them illegal!”

        Lie 1: “Almost all smokers get addicted as children!”
        Lie 2: “The 18-year-old law doesn’t stop the children but a 21-year-old law WILL stop the children!”

        Lie 1: “Children are ordering cartons of cigarettes over the internet even with 3-carton minimum purchases — so internet sales have to be stopped!”
        Lie 2: “Raising the price of a pack with an added 50 cent tax will stop children from buying a single pack!”

        Lie 1: “Children are smoking because they see it on TV!”
        Lie 2: “Everyone drinking and smoking pot on TV has no effect on children!”

        Lie 1: “Smoking bans don’t hurt bar income because smokers will all keep going to the bars even with the bans!”
        Lie 2: “We can’t allow a single smoking bar in a town with a dozen bars because all the smokers with go to that bar!”
        Lie 1: “Bar biz will do SOOO much better because all the nonsmokers will flood the bars with their new business!”
        Lie 2: “We can’t rescind the ban and show how the bars keep the bans on their own because they’ll all decide it’s better to lose money and will go back to allowing smoking!”

        and so on.

        You can see more of their lies at: http://web.archive.org/web/20151013064024/http://thetruthisalie.com/

        – MJM, whose tongue is not forked…

  11. waltc says:

    OT but of note: NY State proposing to ban the sale of filtered cigarettes in order to Save The Planet (and kill the smokers because, they now claim, it’s just another lie that filters make smoking safer ) also to ban disposable e-cigs.


    • LOLOL!!! Take a look at the picture of all those nasty butts the smokers littered on the nice grass!

      Notice anything?

      The filters are all pure white! The idiot Antis had no way to turn the filters a nasty yellow without lighting cigarettes, and evidently couldn’t even FIND enough to make a real picture so they just tore filters off of unsmoked cigarettes!

      It’s as bad as the similar “Black Lung Lie” we just explored again over on Quora: https://www.quora.com/What-pictures-will-scare-people-into-a-healthy-lifestyle/answer/Michael-J-McFadden

      – MJM, who thinks he has a pic of nasty old butts littering a sidewalk outside a bar in his files: 2 butts shown in the pic along with over 150 black old chewing gum wads ground into the sidewalk!

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