In February 2013, President Putin signed a comprehensive tobacco control law that will protect people from secondhand smoke by not allowing smoking in most public places, restrict tobacco advertising, and prohibiting tobacco product displays.
We met recently with health officials from Yekaterinburg, the fourth-largest city in Russia to learn more about Russia’s new policies and to share our best practices. Dr. Svetlana Vladimirovna Glukhovskaya, Dr. Gennady Yevgenyevich Ivanov and Dr. Vladimir Bogdanovich Pidzamkiv have been active in anti-tobacco efforts for the past two years. They were invited to the U.S. under the auspices of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program to learn about tobacco control programs that focus on preventive medicine and public health methodology. They were particularly interested to learn how we had gained public support for smoke-free policies in New York City and why we’ve been so successful in reducing smoking rates.
According to the World Health Organization, tobacco use is the world’s leading cause of preventable death. If current trends persist, tobacco will kill more than 8 million people worldwide annually by the year 2030, with 80 percent of these deaths in low- and middle-income countries. The top five cigarette-consuming countries are China, Russia, United States, Japan and Indonesia. China consumes more than 35 percent of the world’s cigarettes, with 53 percent of males smoking.
This global tobacco epidemic of preventable death, and economic harm will continue to ravage countries and families around the world unless we work together worldwide with a unified voice against Big Tobacco.
Last week, the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City joined international public health professionals, smoking cessation practitioners, academics and researchers working in tobacco control and public health around the world for a two-day conference in Cardiff, Wales, “Innovative Approaches to Tobacco Control.” The conference offered a packed program of tobacco control experts from across the UK and abroad who spoke about the latest strategies, research and innovative approaches to tobacco control.
As we wait for the final vote count on Proposition 29, a measure that would add a $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes in California, we know that price increases are a proven way to bring down smoking rates. In fact, it is such an effective strategy, that even New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong are supporting the initiative. Not surprisingly, Big Tobacco has spent almost $48 million in California to “interfere” with the $1 tax measure. We hope they do not win, but if they do, we will continue our fight to protect youth from smoking.