23 June 2014

The Smoke of the Fatherland

The "Anti-tobacco" case

Nikolai Garmoneistov, "New Siberia"In the beginning it was not a word.

In the beginning there was a ship called La Niña. It all started on March 15, 1496, when Columbus' second expedition brought dried leaves of an unusual herb to Europe. The herb was originally from the province of Tabago, so it received the name "tobacco" from the Europeans. Then, exactly 200 years later, in 1697, after returning from Europe, Peter the Great abolished the ban on smoking in Russia.

And only after more than 300 years there was a word, more precisely, the words of Russian deputies. Federal Law of the Russian Federation No. 15-FZ of February 23, 2013 "On Protecting Citizens' Health from Exposure to Ambient Tobacco Smoke and the Consequences of Tobacco Consumption" was adopted by the State Duma on February 12, 2013, approved by the Federation Council on February 20, 2013 and entered into full force on June 1, 2014.

However, I must say, there was another "word" before that. On December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by a resolution of the UN General Assembly. In particular, it said: "All people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and must act towards each other in the spirit of brotherhood" (article 1). And further: "No one should be subjected to ... degrading treatment" (article 5).

So we will have to talk not only about the physical health of the nation.

Logical dead end In commemoration of the World No Tobacco Day, which took place on May 31, it was repeatedly stated throughout Russia: our country is the most smoker in the world.

It was also said that in terms of the number of cigarettes consumed per capita, we are in first place in the world, because 44 million people smoke in the Russian Federation. Oleg Kutushev, head of the Moscow Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Tobacco Addiction, was one of the few who explained in more detail: "The results of the 2009 global survey of adults on tobacco consumption showed that Russia was among the world leaders in the prevalence of smoking – 39.1 percent among the adult population. This figure among men (60.2 percent),– Kutushev concludes, "was the highest in the world."

At about the same time, in the "Annual Report on Tobacco", the American Cancer Society and the World Lung Foundation cited data not from 2009, but more recent: in Austria, the number of adults who smoke is 47 percent of the population (compared to our 39.1). And, for example, in Papua New Guinea, men smoke even more Russian.

Statistics, as you know, are a crafty thing, and conclusions from any data can also be made with a strong desire. For example, according to the UN, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and Sweden are among the top ten countries with the highest life expectancy. Let's draw conclusions. And then we find out that these same countries occupy the first places in the ranking of coffee consumption per capita. And we will have to draw some completely different conclusions.

Let's take another example. The World Health Organization report for 2011 recorded that Andorra was in seventh place in the "top" of the most drinking countries in the world (15.48 liters per person per year). But according to another list, the same Andorra ranked first in the list of average life expectancy (82 years). What conclusions can be drawn here? It seems that anyone will like it as much as they like.

Now – as for smoking. Countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece, having divided from 7th to 13th places in the lists of high life expectancy, at the same time share worthy places in the top twenty of another list - in terms of cigarette consumption per capita (Greece, for example, recently occupied the top line here). And even Japan, which constantly claims to be the number one "long-lived" country, is now in the top ten, then in the top five in the tobacco smoking rating.

According to the latest research conducted in 2013, Russia ranks 110-140 in the life expectancy ranking (somewhere between Iran and Honduras, but very close to Belarus). In terms of cigarette consumption per capita (according to some recent data), we rank fourth in the world, and in terms of alcohol consumption – sixth. Where is the logic here, I ask? Yes, Serbia and Bulgaria smoke more than us, and Ukraine and Belarus drink more. It seems to turn out that all of us in this company should live longer, like Spain and Greece, but no. No logic, Slavonic brothers, just a naked injustice.

But, on the other hand, according to statistics, the poorer the country, the healthier the lifestyle it leads: for example, in India, only 96 cigarettes per capita are smoked per year (in Greece – about 3,000). So maybe things aren't so bad for us?

However, the survey data is also confusing because they are not as simple as it may sometimes seem. Of course, the easiest way to say: "We smoke the most." And this will formally look quite true. Although, actually, the Chinese smoke 2 trillion 264 billion cigarettes a year, which is 38 percent of all tobacco consumption in the world. Therefore, if you say: "They smoke the most" – this will also be true.

And anyway, so what if the average Chinese smokes 18 percent less often than the average Russian, but lives the same amount on average? And the average Greek smokes less by two percent, and lives ten years longer?

There is no logic in this again. As there is no special trust in the authors of various ratings. But the fact that over a billion people smoke cigarettes in the world is quite possible.

Nothing sacred "Nothing was sacred to him–he smoked."

This is what Victor Hugo wrote in the novel Les Miserables. There are quite a lot of such people in Novosibirsk, almost every second, and this is no secret to anyone.

And, according to those for whom nothing is sacred, the new rules divide the citizens of the country on different sides of the barricades. They note that the authorities do not want a constructive dialogue and harshly persecute tobacco lovers.

However, almost no one has acquired the halo of martyrdom yet. It is almost impossible to punish a smoker yourself, even if you bring photo or video evidence of an offense to the police department. The picture or video must contain the date and time of the shooting. And if the police manage to identify the identity of the offender, he may be fined. But you should know that such a shooting is fraught with litigation – if consent is not obtained for it, the violator can sue for invasion of privacy.

However, there are cases of lynching. In March of this year, residents of one of the houses beat up three Communist Party agitators for smoking on the landing. Note: although the actions of conscious residents were illegal, they proved themselves to be true guardians of the law.

In our city, the "anti-smoking" bill was somehow not particularly discussed. Only after its entry into full force, deputies of the Legislative Assembly of the Novosibirsk region Yuri Zozulya and Oleg Smetanin unexpectedly expressed their doubts about the expediency and effectiveness of the next prohibitive measures.

Oleg Smetanin, though belatedly, but caught himself on a very serious occasion – that the problem is solved not only by prohibitions:

– Medical, psychological, in short, all necessary assistance should be provided to those who want to get rid of a bad habit. And for free! – he was indignant. – Why, for example, smoking rooms are prohibited in organizations and enterprises? The logic of all prohibitive measures is the same – to protect a group or part of the population from actions, in this case tobacco smoke, creating a health hazard. But no one bothers anyone here. People smoke – it's their choice.

– I understand why a ban on smoking has been introduced in entrances, playgrounds, polyclinics, hospitals, educational institutions: non–smokers are protected from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke, - said Deputy Yuri Zozulya. – But I don't understand why the restriction is extended to bars and restaurants, visiting which is not necessary at all. A non-smoker can choose a non-smoking restaurant.

Here we can recall that after smoking was banned in New York restaurants twenty years ago, there was a slight panic among the local authorities and celebrities at first. But it soon became clear that in posh restaurants, privileged visitors who want to enjoy a good tobacco after dinner, even in the forbidden zone will find an ashtray at hand.

The fact that the Novosibirsk deputies may have come across a couple of refusals from the owners of the cafe does not mean anything. Soon everything will settle down, because the owners of the establishments cannot forbid smoking to a regular wealthy client: Caesar Caesarean. As for the not very wealthy, their opinion is not quoted by the media, and no one will hear remarks like: "And why can they, but we can't?"

Whatever laws are passed, there will still be those who will be allowed to smoke. For example, the famous New Yorker David Bowie commented on the ill-fated law there as follows: "I didn't notice it and probably won't notice it."

The deadly enemy of the horse Actually, it has never been accepted to talk about the harmlessness of smoking in our country: the Ministry of Health has always stood firmly on its own, although in the USSR no one forbade anyone to smoke.

On the other hand, all the statistics related to the harm from smoking were, so to speak, completely unscientific. One can even assume that instead of laboratory rats, we experimented on horses, methodically killing them with drops of nicotine for decades.

And even now, little has changed. During a recent hearing in the State Duma entitled "Analysis of the implementation of the Federal Law...", the first deputy head of the State Duma Committee on Health Protection Nikolay Gerasimenko recommended that the Ministry of Health somehow calculate the morbidity and mortality from tobacco: "We have few scientific papers that deal specifically with tobacco-related issues." He said that at one time the data was collected by expert means, and so the figure of 350-400 thousand deaths per year appeared. But in fact, according to him, "there is no such formula, there is no clear methodology, there is not even a clear methodology for calculating the impact of smoking on the morbidity of both the cardiovascular system and oncology."

The parliamentarian considers it important that "scientific work in this direction should be conducted in our country. There is foreign experience in calculations, for example, in the USA, but we need a very correct formula to correctly calculate mortality." From all that has been said, it follows quite clearly that the harm from smoking – and especially passive smoking – we still have to take on faith "as a whole".

That's why we have to listen to these reports: "To see what damage tobacco smoking causes, think about the following statistics of the Ministry of Health – 17 percent of deaths in Russia are caused by smokers."

It looks cynical, but according to such arithmetic, it turns out that non-smokers in Russia account for 83 percent of all deaths.

But in northern Europe, for example, where the necessary "clear methods" of accounting have long existed, as well as strict "anti–smoking" laws, the number of oncological diseases does not decrease in any way, contrary to the expectations of anti–smoking fighters. According to data published in a journal called Tobacco Control, 51,000 men and women aged 20 to 34 years were examined over 20 years. Norwegian scientists have found that the amount of smoking does not mean anything and, moreover, sometimes smoking less means harming your health more. The probability of cardiovascular disease among smokers who have reduced their dose to "less than 15 cigarettes" per day is no less than this indicator among heavy smokers "more than 15 cigarettes per day".

The spirit of enlightenment is preparing many more wonderful discoveries for us. Especially in the field of medicine. We have all heard more than enough about the dangers of smoking. Today, every smoker can read his potential diagnosis on cigarette packs: "Emphysema, impotence, infertility, heart attack, stroke." The formula "Smoking kills" has become familiar no less than the Soviet "There is no God". And yet... it sounds like heresy, but there are also data on the benefits of smoking.

The most favorite argument of enlightened smokers is quoting the medical report of the Australian Bureau of Statistics for 1989/90, concerning the study of the health of smokers, non–smokers and quit smokers. The results then turned out to be so amazing that, apparently, such experiments are either no longer carried out, or their data is classified. As a result of these studies, it was found that the health of smoking Australians was... better than that of non-smokers. And those who quit smoking are much worse than both of them. For example, 11.4 percent of those who quit smoking, 6.7 percent of non-smokers and 6 percent of regular smokers received a heart attack. Ex–smokers suffer the most from high pressure caused by stress – 16 percent, non-smokers - 13.4 percent and only 7.4 percent of smokers. Yes, smokers are somewhat more prone to bronchitis. But they suffer significantly less from high cholesterol compared to those who quit smoking. The same picture is with diabetes and obesity.

And the point here is not at all in this semi-mythical medical report. Scientists have known for a long time that nicotine has a stimulating effect on the brain, improving memory and the quality of information processing. However, only in recent years there has been evidence that this property can be used to treat many "incurable" diseases

Dr. Harvey Checkaway from the University of Washington was amazed to find out that smokers have a 70 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease than non-smokers. Similar data were obtained for Alzheimer's disease, the rate of development of which is slowed down by the by–product of the breakdown of nicotine - nornicotine. But scientists from the University of New York found out that nicotine compensates for defects in brain activity in schizophrenia. It is no coincidence that 88 percent of Americans suffering from this disease smoke, and a lot.

Some researchers claim that people suffering from depression unconsciously treat themselves with nicotine. French biologist Alain Tissier discovered that tobacco leaves contain two substances called "taxol" and "taxoret", which are used, in particular, for the treatment of lung cancer. In Israel, it was found that smoking men almost never have acne and that nicotine is very useful for all kinds of allergic diseases.

On sober reflection, any sane person can come to a primitive, but reasonable conclusion: there is probably no terrible harm attributed to smoking, but there is nothing useful in it either.

And there is nothing terrible in the mysterious word "nicotine" either. The scientific name of tobacco – Nicotiana – was given in honor of Jean Nicot, a French diplomat and owner of the first tobacco plantations in Europe.

Equal rights and traffic rules Deciding what is more harmful and what is more useful for the average earthling is a very dubious matter.

Especially to decide what is right and what is wrong. For example, the so-called sexual minorities are being granted more and more rights, while many heterosexuals in the world continue to consider their orientation not even a disease, but nothing more than a bad habit.

But some American researchers have calculated that the benefits that smoking bans bring to society (a person becomes healthier and more capable of work) should be cut by 70 percent - that's how much they estimated all sorts of costs arising from the fact that a smoking person loses pleasure and suffers from all kinds of restrictions. However, it is also unclear from what ceiling such an exact figure can be obtained.

There is such an old tradition: in all countries and at all times, officials liked to ban everything new. But the history of the emergence of smoking and the history of the fight against it were associated not only with pleasure or danger to life.

One of the main reasons for the rapid spread of tobacco in Europe was the deep conviction of the then enlightened minds in its healing properties. At the beginning of the XVI century, a work on the medicinal plants of America was published, which indicated that tobacco can cure 36 diseases. Catherine de' Medici was recommended snuff as an excellent remedy for migraines, at the French court tobacco was used as a remedy for toothaches, bone aches and stomach disorders. The Marquise de Pompadour was a passionate smoker and had more than three hundred pipes. Tobacco continued to be considered a panacea: to cure a variety of diseases, it was not only sniffed, but also chewed and smoked.

Throughout the history of tobacco smoking, governments of different countries have tried to fight it. In Great Britain and the Ottoman Empire at the end of the XVI century, smokers were equated with sorcerers and punished with "beheading". In Russia in the XVII century, under Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich, smokers were beaten with sticks, and after the Moscow fire of 1634, the death penalty began to be applied. Smoking was called "a sin heavier than death" because it contained two deadly sins – murder and gluttony. Even in the XIX century, John of Kronstadt preached: "Man ... invented and incensed almost incessantly pungent and odorous smoke, bringing it like a permanent censer to the demon."

Well, as for modern priests, some of them already believe that since some "saints" (for example, Nicholas I) smoked, smoking is no longer a sin.

However, political scientists and cultural scientists began to occupy preachers in the XXI century every now and then. And that's what they, for example, broadcast:

– The law, which comes into final force in June, is not related to medical and biological, but to cultural and social stereotypes. They are changing faster than human biology, so the risks that legislators are taking, the deliberate doom of the new rules to sabotage is a sign that consciousness is planned to change in the long term.

These are the words of Jan Levchenko, professor of cultural studies.

According to this scheme, it turns out that our officials are just some kind of innovators–reformers, like Peter the Great on the contrary. According to this scheme, Russia, it seems, will have to reject the herb called "tobacco" – so that through non-smoking Europe this infection returns to its historical homeland, to America. And the opinion of smokers on this issue, of course, does not interest anyone, because it is second-class. (As one of the deputies stated, after the ban, there will be fewer visitors in restaurants at one time, but then "decent people" will return there.)

Fighters against smoking, for example, are very pleased with the following information. It is said that in Singapore, children born in the 1990s and later are marked in the passport: "Do not sell cigarettes." And on the basis of this purely fascist trick, the conclusion is made: "This is how they form a generation that will not smoke!"

That's where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights comes up again, which, in particular, says: "All people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards each other in the spirit of brotherhood." And in the light of the "anti-smoking" law, something is not visible around any Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite. Instead of freedom, equality and fraternity – some kind of Divide Et Impera. So to speak, do not slap with a flipper, just divide and conquer.

So there is nothing surprising in the fact that the president of the international organization "A Future without cigarettes" Matthew Myers formulates it in this way:

– People who insist on their right to smoke next to non-smokers are comparable to those who claim their right to run a red light.

Intonationally, this phrase, I must say, very inappropriately resembles the aphorism of Kozma Prutkov: "A pen writing for money, I will boldly liken a hurdy-gurdy in the hands of a wandering foreigner." Yes, no one is arguing: the right to smoke ends where harm to other people begins. The only question is where what ends and where what begins. This problem should have been solved in the process of drafting the relevant law, and not now draw a belated parallel between the rights of equals and the rules of the road. According to this logic, smokers have been running red lights for the last three hundred years, and for some reason no one really cared.

Yes, it is not so easy to get rid of the "medico-biological" stereotype. Moscow columnist and Russian cigar smoking champion Dmitry Kosyrev, for example, is concerned not so much about the rights of smokers as the duties of lawyers:

– The point of the operation of the medical lobby is to transfer people from cigarettes to pills. Humanity, especially today, cannot live without "mood enhancers" – tea, coffee, sweets, tobacco. But it's all pennies, a pack of cigarettes… well, 5 dollars, well, 10. But a pack of pills – only the sky is higher here. What kind of law was the medical lobby trying to push through the European Parliament? Very simple: so that electronic cigarettes are sold... as a "medical product" certified by the Ministry of Health.

Maybe everything is really explained very simply: while we are being distracted by a discussion on the topic "Does a smoker have the right to run a red light?", the world medical lobby is winning over tobacco in the war for our money?

The Smoke of the Fatherland Quoting the same Kozma Prutkov, "Wisdom, like turtle soup, is not available to everyone."

Therefore, not everyone in Russia turned out to be innovators, there are also reactionaries who are faithful to the precepts of Peter the Great. Smokers who do not plan to change their consciousness in the long term often express their protest, and the forms of protest are very different.

Even at the initial stage of the fight against Italian smokers, Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino admitted that he has been smoking since the age of 18, and said: a complete ban on smoking in public places is anti–democratic, and he personally, having long ago "accustomed" to his smoke cabinet members led by non-smoking Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, as well as the entire leadership NATO in Brussels, will continue to smoke freely in the future.

There is far more than one minister among the fighters for the rights of smokers. A few years ago, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, during a visit to Dublin, tried to smoke in one of the restaurants there and would have been fined three thousand euros if not for his high status.

A complete ban on smoking in public places, including famous pubs, has long been introduced in Ireland, and the head of the Foreign Ministry was well aware of this. He made this trick demonstratively: one local journalist expressed dissatisfaction with the too high price of a Russian visa for Europeans, and the Russian minister clearly demonstrated that in Ireland you can pay a much larger amount for some nonsense at all.

Not so long ago, the advocates of justice even referred to the Constitution. During the discussion of the "anti-smoking" bill, Chairman of the Presidential Council for Human Rights Mikhail Fedotov stated that the new law should not infringe on the rights of smokers:

– What is now presented looks like a ban on smoking in general. It violates the Constitution. Yes, smoking is harmful, I myself quit many years ago and do not smoke. What immediately catches the eye is the lack of guarantees for the rights of smokers. They are also citizens of Russia and have the same rights as non-smokers to protect their legitimate interests.

"You start smoking to prove that you are a man. Then you try to quit smoking to prove that you are a man," Georges Simenon said. Now to this wise remark we can add: "... and then they force you to quit smoking, convincing you that you are not a man."

What about Lavrov and Fedotov… Vladimir Putin himself made it clear in 2011 that radical measures and bans would not be able to improve the current situation regarding the issue of tobacco smoking in our country. They say, "prohibitions alone cannot solve the problem." But it seems that in addition to the prohibitions for all these years, they could not come up with anything worthwhile.

But not only ministers raise their voice in defense of the 40 percent of Russians who smoke. The same Nikolay Gerasimenko told his supporters about these people in these words: "A certain all–Russian movement for the rights of smokers appeared and began to operate, which is supported by our federal independent trade unions – Mikhail Shmakov," after which he admitted that this movement had already collected 100,000 signatures and sent them to the president, trying to "weaken the law aimed at combating smoking in every possible way."

On May 16, 2014, the III Congress of the All-Russian Movement for the Rights of Smokers was actually held in Moscow. Within the framework of the congress, the movement summed up the collection of signatures in support of changes in the "anti-smoking" legislation. Among the proposals are the restoration of isolated smoking areas in hotels, dormitories, airports, train stations, long–distance trains, river and sea vessels; regulation of the issue of smoking in the workforce with the participation of representatives of the employer, employees and the trade union committee; preservation of bars, restaurants and cafes where smoking is allowed.

The honorary guest of the congress, Honored Lawyer of Russia, Professor Mikhail Barshchevsky spoke in support of the movement's initiatives:

– In my memory, this "anti–smoking" law is probably the most discriminatory of those I have seen. When it comes to banning tobacco advertising, so that tobacco products are not sold at the checkout in supermarkets, I can understand this. I can understand those who are trying to prevent young people from smoking. But when a law is passed that is, in essence, a law on the genocide of smokers, I cannot understand this. The main thing is that it is meaningless and will not be executed. The cynicism of this law also lies in the fact that the people who have adopted it understand this perfectly well.

The movement "For the Rights of Smokers" is an all–Russian public organization formed in 2012. It was created in order to "help comply with the principles of equality in relation to smokers and non-smokers, build trusting relationships, respecting the rights of all citizens of the Russian Federation, and promote the adoption of reasonable laws aimed at combating smoking."

The co-chairs of this organization are such authoritative men as politician Gennady Seleznev, journalist and TV presenter Mikhail Leontiev, People's Artist of Russia Mikhail Boyarsky.

Another co-chairman, no less famous gentleman Alexander Druz, expresses their common position quite clearly:

– The anti-smoking law in its current form is aimed at separating society, but not at its cohesion, at antagonism between different parts of society. Today, the law completely infringes on the rights of smokers without offering them anything in return, even though we are also citizens of this country and taxpayers, we also care about the same things that the non–smoking part of society cares about, in particular, the health of the nation. Due to the fact that we will be banned from smoking in places where it was previously allowed, the health of the nation will not improve. There will be more reasons to make claims to each other. If there are non-smoking restaurants, there should be the same restaurants for smokers. According to this law, I cannot open a restaurant where only those who smoke will be visitors, and only those who smoke will be employees – in my opinion, this is a discriminatory decision. It is not necessary to treat smokers as unconscious people.

Another member of the movement "For the Rights of Smokers", the head of a large-scale production, argues his position no less clearly: "The anti-smoking law does not work here and will never work. The number of workers who smoke is about 60-80 percent. Those who have been at work can imagine: here I approach a person working near a melting furnace and tell him: "Smoking is harmful." Do you think he will understand me?!"

The last quote from this "cycle" is the words of the executive director of the movement Andrey Loskutov. He speaks even more argumentatively about the notorious law:

– Let conscious smokers calmly finish smoking to death or to voluntarily give up a bad habit. But only so that smokers do not feel like second-class people. Today's welfare of the country is made by the hands of these people. Currently, 150 countries have adopted a similar law, and only 151 -Russia – has developed the toughest. It formulates only one position of the authorities – to prohibit.

Taboo on tobacco Prohibitive policies have long been a common way to combat tobacco smoke.

First of all, because of its simplicity: you issue a law "Do not smoke!" - and it seems like there is less smoke. Sometimes, of course, such methods are quite appropriate. For example, the current pope has imposed an almost complete ban on smoking in the Vatican entrusted to him. But since one of his predecessors, Pope John XXIII (1881-1963), was an avid smoker, special smoking rooms are still equipped in Vatican museums and galleries, albeit in limited quantities. Since Latin is the official language in this strange country, there are still discussions between supporters of different versions of the forbidding inscription – Vetatur Fumare ("Smoking is prohibited") and Prohibetur Usus Fumi ("Smoking is prohibited"). Now there are practically no places left on 108 hectares of the Vatican territory where the holy fathers and tourists have the right to light a cigarette. But it's one thing to make a thousand priests and cardinals wander around the papal residence in search of a smoking room, and quite another to wean an entire country, even as tiny as Bhutan, from nicotine.

There is only one country in the world so far – the first and the last – absolutely non-smoking. The authorities of Bhutan, a tiny kingdom in the Himalayas between India and China, have imposed a complete ban on the sale and use of tobacco since December 17, 2004. Now any of the two million Bhutanese police will be able to bring to justice simply for the fact that they find a pack of cigarettes in his pockets. However, the ban does not apply to foreign tourists, diplomats and employees of non-governmental organizations.

Besides radical Bhutan, there are other examples. For example, in neighboring India, in order to somehow begin to fight cigarette smoke, it took a special decision of the Supreme Court, which banned smoking in public transport, hospitals and libraries. The Ministry of Health of Thailand has banned tobacco smoking in Buddhist temples of the country. Local doctors have found that most often the cause of death of monks is associated with lung cancer, and almost 150,000 monks across the country have this bad habit. Buddhist canons do not prohibit monks from smoking, and there are about 27,000 temples in Thailand, so it is unclear who will control the execution of secular "statutes" in these "monasteries".

In the United Arab Emirates, they decided to close down establishments where it was possible to smoke even a hookah. At the same time, particularly radical deputies of the local parliament demanded a complete ban on smoking according to the "Bhutanese version", but this radical proposal still did not pass. And the strictest taboo on cigarettes was introduced by the Tokyo authorities: there, in the business center of the city, it has recently been impossible to smoke even on the street. The violator faces a serious fine – more than 160 US dollars.

But perhaps no less sensational than the Bhutanese ban was the Cuban ban. Smoking was once banned in all Cuban bars and restaurants. In this way, Fidel Castro's government decided to fight the infection, which, according to the calculations of the island Ministry of Health, takes up to six thousand lives a year. To imagine a Cuban without a cigar or, at worst, a cigarette in his teeth is simply unthinkable. Even official statistics claim that more than 40 percent of the island's residents smoke. However, the Cubans themselves laugh at these figures: saying that everyone on their island smokes completely, regardless of gender and age. The famous Cuban cigar has long been an integral part of the romantic image of the leaders of the revolution – Fidel Castro, Camillo Cienfuegos or Ernesto Che Guevara. Smoking has long turned into a whole philosophy and lifestyle of Cubans and Cubans. At the same time, certain legends are associated with each variety of cigars. For example, the most famous brand Cohiba was originally made personally for Comandante Fidel and his closest associates. This brand became available to the general public only in 1982. Fidel himself, at the insistence of doctors, quit smoking back in the 80s, so he doesn't seem to care that, according to the decree, smoking is now prohibited in cafes, theaters, cinemas, public transport and taxis.

As for the United States, according to the report of the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the ban on smoking has not yet yielded tangible results. The report says that as a result of the anti-nicotine campaign, heavy smokers began to use light cigarettes, reducing their number, but they did not give up smoking. At the same time, many fans of light cigarettes, as doctors point out, take deeper and more frequent puffs, which does not help to reduce the risk of various diseases.

Steam does not break bones In the process of discussing the "anti-smoking" bill in the second reading, some State Duma deputies suddenly proposed simply to do away with electronic cigarettes.

The authors of such amendments motivated their proposal by the fact that such cigarettes are less harmful, but also contain harmful substances and therefore should not just be equated with ordinary ones, but generally prohibited for sale. You can reread this formulation twice, but you still won't be able to find logic in it.

It is not clear why those wishing to quit smoking were deprived of a less harmful alternative, but in the third reading of the Federal Law, article No. 16 in paragraph d) already prohibited "the use and imitation of tobacco products in the production of other types of goods that are not tobacco products, in wholesale and retail trade of such goods."

As you can see, electronic cigarettes are not directly mentioned, but since most of the models of electronic cigarettes look similar to ordinary ones, they fall under the scope of this law. (However, according to lawyers, small disposable models that do not really resemble traditional cigarettes do not seem to be banned yet.)

What kind of a law is this, the wording of which can be interpreted with the help of all sorts of "like" and "maybe"? But, at least, the new law clearly states that smoking electronic cigarettes in Russia in public places is equivalent to smoking ordinary ones. According to the state Secretary of the Deputy Minister of Health of the Russian Federation Sergey Velmyakin, the ban on smoking electronic cigarettes in public places is due to the fact that water vapor contains nicotine and affects the health of both active and passive smokers, and the use of electronic cigarettes promotes the image of a smoking person.

Why does a Russian with an electronic cigarette in his mouth not promote the image of a person quitting smoking? This opinion does not seem to be of interest to the Ministry of Health. How uninteresting are medical assessments like "Electronic cigarettes are 99 percent less harmful than conventional ones." As well as the fact that there are models that do not contain nicotine at all.

Despite the fact that today the global market for electronic cigarettes is only about three billion dollars (the market for traditional cigarettes is about 400 billion), it may become a key one for tobacco companies in the near future. The governments of European countries and the US authorities have long launched an active campaign to combat smoking, consistently tightening the "anti-smoking" legislation. According to the rules of the new "anti-smoking" legislation of the EU, from 2016 cigarette packs will be decorated with frightening images of the consequences of smoking, covering at least 65 percent of the packaging surface, all flavored cigarettes will disappear from the shelves, and from 2020 (unlike the USA), a ban on menthol cigarettes will also come into effect.

According to experts, 10-15 percent of US and EU residents already use electronic cigarettes. But after the new legislation comes into force, the refusal of at least three EU member states from electronic cigarettes will lead to their ban on the territory of all 28 states.

The radicality of such an approach for enlightened Europe is more than strange, because, according to many authoritative experts, electronic cigarettes are still too little studied to unequivocally assert that the potential risk outweighs the benefits. And perhaps the use of nicotine in the form of steam is an innovation that can become an "innovative product in the field of healthcare."

However, their opponents, for their part, believe that in addition to the potential harm from use, permission to smoke electronic cigarettes in public places will make this process a social norm. And this will have a bad effect on the younger generation.

I must say that bans related to the distribution of electronic cigarettes have already been introduced in the United States: it is prohibited to sell electronic cigarettes to minors and smoke them in public places. Similar rules apply in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Hong Kong, Greece, Norway. But in Australia and Canada (and now in Russia), the sale of electronic cigarettes is also prohibited. Although we call it "Sort of".

More recently, a group of doctors and researchers signed an open letter to the leadership of the World Health Organization, urging "not to succumb to the temptation to take control and ban electronic cigarettes." The proposal is motivated by the fact that, according to their data, "those trying to quit smoking are 60 percent successful if they use electronic cigarettes, and not nicotine gum, patches, or just try to quit by willpower."

As if in response to this statement, scientists from the University of San Francisco presented their study, where they justified the uselessness of using electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation: "Such smoking simulators reduce the chances for those who want to quit smoking, and "water vapor" pollutes the indoor air."

Without any analogies It remains to mention one more prohibition that is present in the Law "On the protection of citizens' health from the effects of ambient tobacco smoke and the consequences of tobacco consumption."

It prohibits the screening of films with scenes of smoking, "unless it is an integral part of the artistic intent." Such a ban immediately caused an "initiative from below", and the following studies appeared in the media: "We analyzed eight of the most popular films among young people, and almost every one has scenes with smoking: 60 percent of the main characters smoke, 55 percent of them are young people." "Stupid people smoke who achieve nothing." "In Western films, if they show a smoker, it's either a bandit or a prostitute. Abroad, the artist will not appear smoking in a movie even for a million, as this will negatively affect his image."

In general, there is nothing strange in the fact that one of the developers of the law filed a complaint with the Ostankino interdistrict prosecutor's office and Roskomnadzor against the authors of the television series "Thaw" in connection with the "propaganda of drug addiction." Alexey Shabashov, a member of the coordinating council for tobacco control at the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, who participated in the development of that very law, believes that there is too much smoking in this series, especially women. So go now and prove the historical authenticity of what is happening on the screen.

We could also talk about "hotlines", which especially conscious citizens can now call and inform the relevant authorities about violations by smoking neighbors and acquaintances. It was possible to recall the attempts to discriminate against Russian women, whom the deputies want to ban from smoking until the age of 40. But since some servants of the people, for example, are already striving to assume the right to decide for the Russians what shoes they need to wear, it is difficult to add anything else.

It is good that the members of the State Duma do not force the population to pray to God yet. As folk wisdom says, a not very smart person can get hurt in the process.

On March 18, 1958, at the VIII Congress of the Communist Party of China, Mao Zedong called on the nation to destroy sparrows – as part of the Big Leap policy. After all, sparrows massively devour the harvest, bringing a colossal loss to the national economy. Propaganda explained that the sparrow bird cannot stay in the air for more than 15 minutes, after which it falls to the ground dead. So the citizens were ordered to shout more, beat basins and drums, swing poles with rags, standing on the roofs of houses. This lasted for seven months, during which the Chinese destroyed two billion sparrows in China, and almost all birds in Beijing.

After the end of the campaign, caterpillars and locusts bred, harvests plummeted, famine began in the country, as a result of which more than 10 million people died. I had to buy new sparrows abroad. In the next draft of the "Decree of the Central Committee of the Central Committee on hygiene measures", adopted exactly two years later, Mao Zedong announced: "Do not beat sparrows, as a result we only got bedbugs. Now the slogan is: "Destroy bugs and flies."

Of course, there is no analogy with the new Russian law here. But it may be out of place to recall that in modern Russia there are other troubles besides smoking. Even if you do not take into account the roads and fools.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru23.06.2014

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