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Butt Out, Russian Officials

Published: July 2, 2014 (Issue # 1818)



  • Russians are resentful of overzealous officials proposing bans targeting their way of life.
    Photo: Gordon Anthony McGowan / Flickr

Women Under 40 Prohibited, shouted the newspaper headline.

From what? I wondered. Becoming judges or school principals? Joining social clubs for the middle-aged?

The answer, when I read further, was equally absurd.

The article was on a proposal debated in the Russian parliament this month. Lawmaker Ivan Nikitchuk had introduced a bill to ban the sale of cigarettes to women under 40. Violators would be fined 3,000 to 5,000 rubles ($90 to $150).

Lets leave on one side the obviously discriminatory nature of a legislative move that would be unthinkable in any other European country.

Although the idea seems straight out of a political satire, it is indicative of a way of thinking in the upper echelons of government. Many Russian officials believe that tight control and restrictions are the best approach to a range of social issues from drug addiction to reproductive health.

Nikitchuk says the smoking ban for younger women would help preserve the genetic resources of the nation.

All normal Russian people want to leave a healthy generation to follow after them, and we do not want our country to turn into a land of disabled people and allergy sufferers, Nikitchuk said in an interview withKommersant.

When a woman smokes, she creates infertility risks for herself and is much more likely to give birth to an unhealthy child. Over the past 20 years the number of women in Russia who smoke has tripled. And it is high time to act.

Asked why the proposed ban does not target the male population, Nikitchuk said wait for it that men who smoke have already punished themselves enough because smoking effectively reduces their sexual potency.

In recent months the Russian state has produced an avalanche of ever more sophisticated and intrusive restrictions meant to improve public health.

In February, Russian officials expressed grave concerns about the quality ofwomens underwearand banned lingerie that does not reach a 6 percent threshold for moisture absorption.

Moisture absorption in many of the most popular synthetics used in frilly panties is reportedly around only 3 to 3.6 percent. All of these wrong types of lingerie are due to disappear from the shelves in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, which form a customs union, byJuly 1.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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