Russian sweets-for-smokes plan fails

Young Russians are reluctant to be weaned off cigarettes, and a drive to persuade them hand over their packets of fags in return for sweets on Thursday fell flat, organisers admitted.

Militants of the youth section of the pro-Kremlin United Russia armed themselves with sweets that they hoped to exchange for 3 000 packets of cigarettes to mark an anti-smoking day in Russia’s port on the Pacific.

However, they only managed to prise a miserable 100 packs away from smokers, said Irina Tatarenko, the spokesperson for the city council that organised the initiative.

At the state University of the Far East, which has 32 000 students, the result was dire: a mere six packs at the end of the day in an establishment where more than 70% of the male and about half of the female students smoke.

Student Dmitri Nazarov explained why the action day found little favour.

“Nobody believes in this sort of propaganda.
We smoke because it helps us relax together.”

About 700 Russians a day die from smoking-related diseases, according to the Russian public health association.

Half of all teenagers smoke in Russia where a packet of cigarettes costs between 50 cents and one euro. In all, three in four of Russian men and one in 10 women are affected by tobacco.

Last Friday, Russian deputies unanimously adopted a law restricting sales and tobacco consumption, banning smoking in the workplace and the sale of cigarettes near schools.—Sapa-AFP