Smoking in public to get expensive under new laws
By David Owens
November 15, 2013
A ban on smoking in public places took place June 1, 2013. Did anyone notice a difference? Hardly. There were no penalties and smokers scoffed at the idea for the most part. That all changed Nov. 15, 2013. Fines for smoking within 15 meters, (50 feet) of metro stations, airport buildings and entrances, schools, hospitals and train stations between 500 to 3,000 rubles ($15 to $90) are now in effect.
The laws have teeth. And policemen can have a field day writing up citations to a defiant public. Finally, there is a chance to walk in public without noticing that the majority of the Russian population seem to smoke.
Additionally, laws restricting cigarette advertising targeting youth, giving them away or advertising special discounts is forbidden with fines up to 600,000 rubles ($18,000) for companies and 4,000 rubles ($120) for individuals. Alas, no more girls in skimpy outfits walking the streets giving away cigarettes. Now they will have to charge.
Will all seem smoke-free in public? Not quite. Laws prohibiting smoking in restaurants and cafes do not go into effect until June 1, 2014. Russia already requires restaurants to provide non-smoking areas. For the most part this has proven to be a joke with the designation of a few undesirable smoking tables that still get plenty of smoke. And even there proprietors are often hesitant to enforce their own rules for fear of losing customers or retaliation verbally or physically.
Is there hope? Yes! Remember the rules against drinking in public? There are remarkably less people lifting bottles in public and those that do try to conceal it in paper bags or other containers. There are less smashed bottles on the pavement after public holidays. Moderation is winning for most.