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Submitted by Patricio V Marquez on
Thanks for your comments Sarah. A comprehensive body of measures is indeed needed as you suggest. Smoking is extremely popular in Russia, with low cost of cigarettes being a major contributing factor. The most effective way to reduce tobacco use is to raise the price of tobacco through tax increases. Higher prices discourage youth from initiating cigarette smoking and encourage current smokers to quit. Currently, prices for tobacco products in Russia are so low that smokers and potential smokers have no economic reason not to purchase them. Cigarettes are so cheap – cheaper than many household items – that they pose no serious financial hardship to even low-income consumers. So building upon the excise tax increases on cigarettes adopted in 2009-2010, the expectation is that the new law will lead to the adoption of higher taxes and hence to higher prices for cigarettes. The World Bank recommends adopting tax policies of countries with comprehensive tobacco control policies where tobacco consumption has fallen. Such countries such as the United States, England, Canada, and Australia, have tobacco taxes between two-thirds to four-fifths of retail price. Russia may need to consider a different higher rate to bring the current, extremely low prices high enough to the levels of other G-8 countries to have a real impact on reducing smoking rates. Increasing the price of tobacco through tax increases will decrease its consumption, save lives and raise tax revenue. And to shift social norms, besides banning smoking in public places as the new law mandates, information, communication and education campaigns are required to increase awareness of the dangers of smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke, promote the benefits of quitting and the availability of cessation services, launch targeted, hard-hitting counter-advertising campaigns, develop materials and resources for lay and provider audiences, and promote a tobacco-free society as a major social and public health law.