Russian kids Smoke themselves into the Grave
In today’s special issue, we argue once again that Russia must be divested of the 2014 Olympic Games. A jaw-dropping recent report in the Moscow Times newspaper highlights the innumerable social problems that plague Russia, problems from which the Olympics is diverting essential resources at the cost of Russian lives.
The mighty MT reports that Dr. Leonid Lazebni, the Russian Surgeon General, announced that Russian children face a “catastrophe” because, in Moscow at least, three out of four boys and two out of three girls smoke cigarettes. This contrasts with an overall smoking rate in the capital city of 24.6%.
These figures are truly shocking, of course, but even more stunning was the Keystone Cops manner in which the utterly clueless Lazebni made his presentation and in which the assembled government officials responded.
Radio Free Europe reports:
Five minutes on Moscow’s streets would be enough to convince any visitor that smoking is a way of life here. Every second person seems to be holding a cigarette.
Waiting to cross the street at a traffic light, cigarette in hand, Sergei Golikov says people should feel free to light up wherever they want.
“It’s everyone’s personal decision,” he says. “If he wants to smoke fine, if not, fine. No one’s forcing anyone to do it.”
Russia has one of the world’s highest smoking rates. The government says 44 million Russians smoke. That’s a third of the population, including more than 60 percent of all males.
It’s having a major effect on the country’s health. Up to 400,000 Russians die each year from tobacco-related causes. But as health campaigns in the West encourage growing numbers of smokers to give up the habit, Russia is becoming increasingly important for international tobacco firms, and the number of Russia’s newest smokers — women and teenagers — is skyrocketing.