Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych should listen to his younger son, Viktor Jr., and sign into law a comprehensive ban of tobacco advertising and promotion.
The measure, already passed by parliament and now only requiring his signature to go into force, will save lives.
“Tobacco advertising should be prohibited. Smoking should not be stylish,” the president’s son, a member of parliament in the ruling Party of Regions said on March 5. “Health is a human’s main capital, and public health is an indicator of the success of the country. In other words, the lesser people use medical services, the stronger and more efficient is the country in which these people live.
Of course, everyone makes their own choice. But smoking should not be advertised as a fashionable, stylish habit. ... Today sports, travel, watching good movies is fashionable. I would like your young people to live according to such.”
Well said, Mr. Yanukovych.
The tobacco-ad ban is one of the commitments that Ukraine signed on to when it ratified the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2006.
The tobacco industry spends billions of dollars around the globe annually to replace the customers who die from their products.
According to one of Ukraine’s public health champions, Konstantin Krasovsky, probably the most noticeable effect of the stronger legislation would be to remove promotions and ads from the nation’s street kiosks, where cigarettes are sold, and on the packs themselves, as well as eliminate all print tobacco advertising and sponsorship.
The tobacco industry spends billions of dollars around the globe annually to replace the customers who die from their products – including more than 100,000 Ukrainians who die prematurely each year from smoking-related illnesses.
But the ad ban law doesn’t go far enough. The president should also prevail on his ruling Party of Regions to adopt legislation that would impose a 100 percent ban on indoor smoking in public places, including restaurants and bars. Even smokers embrace such legislation.
They can easily duck outside for a quick smoke, a small price to pay for returning to cleaner indoor air. Not only will business not suffer, it may also improve with an indoor smoking ban. One of the biggest turnoffs to going to Kyiv’s nightclubs and restaurants is the stench of smoke-filled rooms.
Ukraine also needs to keep hiking the taxes on cigarettes, which remain way too cheap by European Union and American standards. Not only will the government gain more short-term revenue, but fewer people will smoke, bringing long-term benefits.
The president has a clear choice: either he will be on the side of public health and the nation’s future, or he will choose to defend the profits of a rapacious industry of death peddlers.
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