No More Cheap Cigarettes

A draft law to increase the rate of excise duties on cigarettes threefold has been submitted to the State Duma. The bill also seeks to double taxes on vodka and brandy (a 2.2 increase), on wine - by 60% and on beer – by 80%.

Earlier, Russian presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich said that the two most important elements in the struggle for the health of Russian people are to curb the sales of illegal alcohol and to set ‘dizzying’ prices for cigarettes. ‘We have a traditional fear of hiking up the price of vodka. Everyone thinks it would lead to illegal production and the use of surrogates – and there is some truth in this,' Dvorkovich admitted. Yet, ‘if we continue to increase excise duty twice or three times per annum for the next three years, everything should be all right'.

Although population levels in Russia keep falling, cigarette consumption is growing. in just five years, for example, it has increased by 30 percent. The spread of tobacco-related diseases here, where every second citizen smokes, is enormous. In recent years, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - the main cause of which is smoking - has gone up from 12th to 4th place in Russian mortality statistics. Lung cancer, which in nine cases out of ten is caused by smoking, affects about 50,000 men every year.

Russia imposes ridiculously low excise on cigarettes – only €0,19 per pack which is eight times less than in Poland, 15 times less than in Germany and 25 times than in the UK.