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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > April 2016 > Russia tries to kick the habit

Russia tries to kick the habit

Cigarette prices are rising but smokers are fighting back

There you are at the bus stop in Moscow, shuffling your feet in the freezing slush and thinking of having a quick cigarette to pass the time. Surprisingly, since we tend to think of Russians as having a shot of vodka in one hand and a cigarette in the other, acting on that thought is going to prove quite difficult.

In Russia, you are now only allowed to smoke in designated outdoor areas and cigarettes are no longer sold at news kiosks. They are neither advertised nor publicly displayed in the diminishing number of places that still stock them and the warnings on the packets are big and stark. A packet of Marlboro Reds now costs 110 roubles (£1.10)—a small sum by western standards, but it represents a price rise for foreign cigarettes of 20 per cent in the last year.

So, you wonder whether you should contribute to Russia’s smoking cessation figures (which, if believed, show that the number of Russians who smoke is down 17 per cent over the past year, though a whopping 43 per cent of the population still smokes) when suddenly the decision is made for you. You glance at the bus stop billboard and there is a lurid anti-smoking advert from the Russian Ministry of Health (a recent Moscow poster of President Barack Obama, with the slogan that smoking kills more people than he does, appears to have been a prank). Resolved at last to ditch the filthy American habit and stride forward as a healthy, chest-bearing, horse-riding citizen of Vladimir Putin’s glorious Russia, you board the bus.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s April issue: Sam Tanenhaus profiles Donald Trump, the leading candidate for the Republican Party Presidential nomination and asks if Trump makes it to the Oval Office, what would he do? Stephen Glover, examines what is happening at the Guardian as the newspaper looks to cut costs. Ferdinand Mount says Tony Blair transformed Britain but he should have cared more about the Labour Party. Also in this issue: Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI5, says that Brexit would not damage the UK’s security and Christopher de Bellaigue questions whether France’s clampdown on radicals is having the right effect. Plus Miranda France looks at the legacy of Don Quixote and the Duel asks: “Should the Church of England be disestablished”?
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