The Belarus President urges new approaches in the fight against smoking. The head of state paid attention to this at the meeting aiming to deal with the trafficking and consumption of tobacco and electronic cigarettes.
Last year, Belarus' tobacco production fell by 16%. Belarus is conducting policy aiming to reduce tobacco consumption.
A number of regulatory legal acts are in force to help resolve the problem. Among them is the Decree of the President on this topic adopted back in 2002. These days, there are proposals to correct it.
Meanwhile, electronic cigarettes are banned in Denmark, Israel, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Norway, and some states of America. They are considered more dangerous than regular cigarettes. Among other things, the meeting discussed a proposal to ban electronic cigarettes. The draft decree reduces the number of places for smoking and imposes restrictions on the sale and use of electronic cigarettes.
The President noted that in order to achieve results in the fight against smoking, not a total ban but a thoughtful set of measures is necessary.
Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
The decree designed to reduce the consumption of tobacco by our countrymen was adopted in 2002; necessary changes are being made to it on a regular basis. But there is still no proper result on which we counted. Therefore, first, we need to examine how the provisions of the current version of the decree are being executed and what progress has been achieved. Second (about those responsible for the implementation of its provisions): how well do we keep track of the results of the work done? Third, we see that people are still smoking and restrictive measures are not enough.
Moreover, there are new products to mimic smoking causing no less damage to health than tobacco. We are talking about electronic cigarettes, which are becoming increasingly popular. The new draft decree proposes to equate electronic cigarettes to tobacco products and to expand the list of places where smoking is prohibited. However, the question arises whether these measures will bring the desired effect. It is not a secret that a forbidden fruit is always sweet. "Experienced" smokers will need a strong motivation for quitting.
It's time to look for new ways to solve this problem, which will take into account the real situation and the psychology of people. International experience and practice show that to achieve results we don't need a total ban; rather, we should work out a thoughtful set of measures. Administrative restrictions should be organically combined with various types of incentives, promotions and information work. The main role is given to doctors, journalists, teachers, and ideologists. We should discuss whether this draft decree has everything we need and whether there are some alternative ways to decrease the number of smokers in Belarus.
Yevgeny Gorin, CTV:
One in two men and one in ten women: about a third of Belarusians are smokers. The figures, in general, are similar to European statistics. However, in terms of restrictive measures, smokers in Belarus still lag far behind EU member states. Experts believe that 1 person dies every 6 seconds in the world from diseases associated with smoking.
Every year, smoking causes the death of 5.5 million people. In 2015, about 5,000 Belarusians died from diseases related to smoking. Each year, the smoke "dissolves" the number of people equal to the population of a small town.
Belarus' cigarette imports are insignificant. 98% of tobacco products, including those licensed, are produced by Belarusian enterprises businesses. It is clear that economic feasibility is also at stake. It's a lot of money. However, according to international experts, national economies spend up to 1% of GDP for the treatment of diseases of smokers.
Vasily Zharko, Minister of Health of the Republic of Belarus:
Tobacco use causes significant harm to health. And the damage to health from tobacco use puts heavy burden on society and the state. Tobacco smoking is one of major and avoidable risk factors of the development of noncommunicable diseases, their complications and premature death. In Belarus, non-communicable diseases account for about 86% of all illnesses and 82% of all deaths.
Top managers of some enterprises are beginning to stimulate people to abandon smoking.
Nikolai Yermakov, general director of the enterprise:
We must invest in people today. We will invest in people: it is long-term assets that will pay off. If you don't smoke for one quarter, you are included in the so-called non-smoking team. If you were seen somewhere smoking, then you are not given any additional money. The people are divided into smokers and non-smokers.
Every three months, Alexander receives about Br100. This is quite an increase for refusing from a cigarette.
Alexander Zubov, mechanic:
I quit smoking. I have not smoked for a year, I feel much better. My friend used to smoke. And then, after he started receiving money, he finally quit. Now he works much better.
Finland is a pioneer of anti-smoking law, and it is the most rigorous in the world. Forbidden is not only smoking in public places, but even sponsorship from tobacco producers. The result is the following: over 50 years, the number of smokers has decreased by almost three times. In the autumn, Finland will discuss new amendments to the bill related to electronic cigarettes.
Ismo Tuominen, representative of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Finland:
Tobacco is responsible for most premature deaths. Everyone understands that if tobacco appeared on the market right now, it would be banned.
By 2040, Finland wants to be a non-smoking country. New Zealand wants to achieve this goal by 2025.
According to the World Health Organization, in the XX century, smoking caused premature death of 100 million people worldwide. That's more than the number of people killed during the Second World War. Experts believe that by the end of the XXI century, the number of tobacco victims will increase to one billion.
Belarus will continue to fight against smoking. It will use not only prohibitive and restrictive measures, authorities say.
Vladimir Koltovich, Trade Minister of the Republic of Belarus:
This decree equates the sales of electronic smoking systems to the sales of tobacco products. In addition, the decree specifies the procedure of sale, specifies smoking areas. They are regulated in a stricter fashion, otherwise speaking. And a ban is introduced on the consumption and trafficking of smokeless chewing mixtures.