Russia’s hookahs lovers may soon be deprived of their beloved habit, as the country’s parliament is considering a bill on banning the smoky hobby in public places.
The ban’s supporters say smoking hookahs is a hundred times more harmful than cigarettes. They also point out that the habit can spread tuberculosis and syphilis.
The Russian government is also working on a radical anti-tobacco draft which will completely eliminate tobacco shops and prohibit smoking in building entrances, coffee shops, restaurants and nightclubs.
The Health Ministry has also suggested annual price increases on tobacco. According to Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin, the increase in excise tax on alcohol and tobacco will bring in an additional 8 billion rubles in 2012 and 59 billion rubles in 2013.
The goal of the new anti-tobacco legislation is to decrease tobacco consumption in Russia by 10-15 per cent. Today, 60.2 per cent of males and 21.7 per cent of females smoke in Russia, making up 40 per cent of the country’s population. An estimated 400,000 Russians die each year of smoking-related illnesses.
Thus far, efforts to introduce a general smoking ban have faced an uphill struggle. Recent draft legislation would see a ban in cafes and nightclubs no earlier than 2015.