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Cablegate: Russia Still a Smoker's Paradise

VZCZCXRO1269
RR RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
DE RUEHMO #5630/01 3360808
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020808Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5620
INFO RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 2551
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2879
RUEHZN/EST COLLECTIVE
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 005630

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

USAID FOR GH, E&E
HHS FOR OGHA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO SCUL PREL SOCI RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA STILL A SMOKER'S PARADISE

REFS: A. Moscow 5522

B. Moscow 1834
C. Moscow 1434

MOSCOW 00005630 001.2 OF 002


THIS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT
ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Russian Duma session that ended November 16
failed to approve legislation placing greater restrictions on
smoking in public places. The outgoing Duma also did not approve
the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which Russia has
neither signed nor ratified. Observers contend that some lawmakers'
hopes to make Russia a little less of a smoker's paradise were
snuffed out by Russia's powerful tobacco lobby. END SUMMARY.

------------------
GOOD INTENTIONS...
------------------

2. (U) In the Spring of 2007, the Duma approved in the first reading
significant amendments to the law "On the Restriction of Tobacco
Smoking." The draft legislation banned smoking in airports and
train stations, and in airplanes, trains and boats. (NOTE: All
Russian air carriers ban smoking, so the draft law simply codified
existing practice on board aircraft.) The legislation also mandated
the establishment of no-smoking zones in restaurants, bars and
cafes. These smoke free zones were supposed to occupy at least half
of the restaurant's public space, while the smoking section would
have to be equipped with special air cleaning systems. Violators
could be punished by fines of 80,000 to 100,000 rubles (up to
$4,000). The Duma also approved in the first reading a separate
amendment to the smoking law which reduced the amount of tar and
nicotine in Russian cigarettes to EU levels and required warning
labels on cigarette packs to be increased to 30 percent of the
pack's surface area (from the four percent of surface area that
warnings now occupy).

3. (U) On May 28-29, the eve of World No Tobacco Day, the Duma
organized a two-day forum on "Health or Tobacco" in partnership with
Moscow's Blokhin Cancer Research Center, the U.S. National Cancer
Institute, the American-Russian Cancer Alliance, and a number of
health NGOs. The forum featured leading Russian politicians railing
against the ill health effects of smoking, including Duma Speaker
Gryzlov, Moscow Mayor Luzhkov, and famous Russian crooner turned
Duma Deputy Iosef Kobzon. Keynote speakers included the Ambassador
and a video address from Congressman Steny Hoyer, a strong supporter
of joint U.S.-Russian research on tobacco-related cancers. Duma
Speaker Gryzlov referred to a letter from President Putin calling
for laws to curb smoking and the ratification of the WHO Framework
Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Likewise, Dr. Nikolay
Gerasimenko (United Russia Party), Deputy Head of the Duma Health
Committee and a leading Russian anti-smoking campaigner, pledged
that the Duma would ratify the FCTC by September 2007.

-----------------
...GO UP IN SMOKE
-----------------

4. (SBU) The high-level interest in the "Health or Tobacco" Forum
led some observers to believe the Duma would see through
anti-smoking legislation this year. They expected, however, that
the legislation would be watered down under pressure both from
Russia's powerful tobacco lobby, and from the hospitality sector,
which balked at the expense of establishing smoke free zones and
special air systems for smoking sections. Both amendments to the
tobacco law were supposed to go through a second and third reading
during the fall Duma session. The second reading of the legislation
never took place, and the Duma also didn't fulfill Health Committee
Deputy Gerasimenko's pledge to approve the FCTC, which never came
before the Duma for a vote.

--------------
WHAT HAPPENED?
--------------

5. (SBU) Dr. Somasundram Subramanian from the Blokhin Cancer
Research Center, an institute which has actively supported
anti-smoking legislation in the Duma, told us the Duma was busy
during the fall session and didn't see through tobacco control
legislation. Dr. Kirill Danishevskiy, a consultant with the Open
Health Institute, was less charitable. He told us that some United
Russia Duma Deputies have business ties to the tobacco industry and
opposed further restrictions on smoking. Danishevskiy helped form a
Russian National Coalition for the Ratification of the FCTC. The
coalition published an open letter to Putin in the Izvestiya

MOSCOW 00005630 002.2 OF 002


newspaper on November 15 (The Great American "Smokeout" Day). The
letter argued for the passage of the FCTC and noted that smoking was
one of the main causes of low life expectancy in Russia. The
coalition also complained about the Duma's failure to pass
anti-smoking legislation and noted the links of some Duma Deputies
to tobacco businesses. The open letter was signed by several
leading health NGOs, including the Open Health Institute, the League
for the Protection of Patients, the Society of Evidence-Based
Medical Specialists, the Russian Association for Public Health, and
the Russian charitable foundation "No Alcoholism, No Drug
Addition."

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STILL SMOKIN'
-------------

6. (U) Russia is the world's largest importer of tobacco,
representing an attractive growth market for international tobacco
companies. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, multinational
tobacco firms have also heavily invested in domestic production in
Russia and now have a hold on the Russian market. Japan Tobacco
International has a 35 percent market share based on the number of
cigarettes sold (Mild Seven brand and the Camel, Winston and Salem
brands as the owner of RJ Reynolds' international operations).
Philip Morris (Marlboro) controls 27 percent of the market. British
American Tobacco (Kent, Vogue, Pall Mall and Dunhill) controls 22
percent of the market.

7. (U) The cheapest cigarettes cost only 8-10 rubles (32-40 cents)
per pack, less than the price of a loaf of bread or a ride on public
transport. Prices for well-known international brands, such as
Marlboro, start at 16-20 rubles (64-80 cents) per pack in Moscow.
Price growth for tobacco products in recent years has been around
5.8 percent per year, well below the inflation rate, according to an
analytical report prepared for the Duma's "Health or Tobacco" Forum
in May. The excise or "sin" tax for cigarettes is rising but still
remains very low in Russia.

8. (U) Few businesses provide a smoke-free workplace for their
employees, and not many restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels have set
aside public spaces for non-smoking visitors. Although Russian law
prohibits tobacco sales to those under 18, there is almost no
enforcement, and cigarettes are easily accessible to minors.

9. (U) Some 65 percent of Russian men and 30 percent of women smoke,
according to estimates recently released by the Federal Surveillance
Service for Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being
(Rospotrebnadzor). Rospotrebnadzor also believes that more than
three million 15-19 year olds smoke (25 percent of this age group).

-------
COMMENT
-------

10. (SBU) The Duma appears to have bowed to pressure from the
tobacco lobby and snuffed out promising tobacco legislation, even in
the face of a demographic crisis where smoking and drinking are the
two main factors driving Russia's high mortality (Refs B, C). The
National Demographic Concept signed by Putin on October 9 does not
mention developing a tobacco control policy (Ref A). As with
proposals to reduce hard alcohol consumption (Refs A, B, C),
lawmakers still believe that significant restrictions on smoking
would be unpopular and politically unworkable in Russia.

BURNS

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