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And then my friend told me this story: Before the law,
he smoked during dinners. After the law went into effect, he became too lazy to
go out and smoke. Now he smokes so much less that he is thinking about quitting
smoking entirely as a New Year’s present to himself.

During the advocacy campaign for the 100 percent smoke-free law, the tobacco
industry’s lobbyists argued that such measures are ineffective and will cost
restaurants business.

None of this is true.

According to international experience, the only industry that loses out is
the tobacco industry. Tobacco producers know it for sure. 

Philip Morris’s own research shows that prohibiting smoking in the workplaces
not only reduces consumption but also leads more people to quit.

A 1992 memo summarizing these findings states: “Total prohibition of
smoking in the workplace strongly affects industry volume. Smokers facing these
restrictions consume 11 percent-15 percent less than average and quit at a rate
that is 84 percent higher than average.” Philip Morris’ internal documents
recognizes that the “financial impact of 
smoking bans will be tremendous – three to five fewer cigarettes per day
per smoker will reduce annual manufacturer profits $1 billion plus per
year.” (

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 68
percent of smokers in Ukraine want to quit. In 2012, Ukraine gained several victories in tobacco
control. Almost all types of tobacco advertising are legally banned and have disappeared.
Ukraine forbids smoking in most indoor public places, including cafes, bars and
restaurants. Graphic pictorial warnings take up 50 percent of the front and back
side of packs. These legislative achievements will decrease smoking prevalence
in the country.

Previous tobacco
control policies, mainly tobacco tax increases (see ) already have reduced the number of smokers in
Ukraine from 10.1 million in 2008 to 8.6 million in 2011. And soon, Ukraine
will experience a decline in tobacco-related mortality and morbidity. For example,
the number of persons who report chronic bronchitis has decreased by 18 percent
in three years.

As for 2013, the key task
is enforcement of the anti-tobacco laws, old and new. We also do expect to
see political will to further increase tobacco taxes for the sake of helping
people quit smoking and reducing tobacco-related diseases. Tobacco and alcohol control are the most
difficult areas of public health, given both industries’ clout and outreach.
But progress must be made if more Ukrainians are to live full and healthy lives.

 Hanna Hopko is the coordinator of the
coalition of nongovernmental organizations and the initiative “For A Smoke-Free
Ukraine.” The group was formed in 2000 and unites 95 organizations in Ukraine.

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