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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).

Let’s 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 with Kommersant.

“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 of women’s underwear and 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, by July 1.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Nov. 23


Get in the holiday spirit at today’s Winter Bazzar at the Astoria Hotel. Featuring gifts from around the world such as French eclairs, Dutch cheeses and Indian jewelry, the annual event organized by the International Women’s Club will feature 18 international stands and raise money for charity through the sales of a diversity of products that further illustrate the city’s international connections.



Monday, Nov. 24


Dr. Axel Schulte, Department Head at Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund, Germany, is the featured speaker at the SPIBA Industrial Committee lecture on “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Digitalization of the Supply Chain.” The event begins at 4 p.m. at the Graduate School of Management at 3 Volkohvsky Pereulok and registration is required by Nov. 21 either by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.



Tuesday, Nov. 25


Tag along with AmCham during their “Industrial St. Petersburg” Tour program today. This incarnation of the ongoing series will visit Philip Morris Izhora and include an Environmental Health and Safety Committee meeting.


Find out how to expand your business east during the “Business With China” forum beginning today and concluding tomorrow at the Lenexpo convention center. The largest Russian forum dedicated to business with the Asian giant, topics that will be discussed include logistics, customs clearance, trade financing and many more.



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