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The Minister of Healthcare of the Russian Federation Veronika Skvortsova opened the sixth session of the Conference of the parties to the WHO Convention on tobacco control
The Minister of healthcare of the Russian Federation Veronika Skvortsova opened the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
Good morning distinguished ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues,
I’m delighted to welcome you in Moscow on the Sixth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control! Let me begin my speech by reading out a welcoming address from the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin:
I welcome in Moscow the delegates and guests of the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. First of all, I would like to underscore the considerable and significant role of the WHO Framework Convention in consolidating the efforts aimed to effectively implement the large-scale international programmes designed to improve health of people through tobacco control.
Russia fully supports the key purposes and ideas of the Convention and facilitates their active promotion in our country. The damage incurred by tobacco addiction is obvious. It extends not only to the smokers but also their families and people around them. We seek to limit tobacco smoking, protect children and adults from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, secure them from tobacco advertising and beyond that we offer medical assistance to all those suffering from tobacco addiction. Our best efforts are employed to maintain the health of the nation, improve the quality of life and life expectancy of our citizens. To achieve this we build on the legal system and develop preventive healthcare on the one hand and rely on wide support from the society on the other hand. I am convinced your representative forum will make a considerable contribution to combating smoking, factor into bringing down mortality from diseases incurred by tobacco consumption and offer effective solutions in this area. I wish all of you the most productive work and successful accomplishment of your goals!
Russian Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova continued her speech:
«Dear colleagues, it is a great honour for us to host delegates from over 180 countries, representatives of international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations coming together to discuss combating tobacco consumption, one of the most acute issues of health care.
We have to remember: health is both a vital value and an inviolable right of every individual. Provision of this right is one of the most important functions of the state. That is why no country could remain indifferent to the drastically progressing epidemic of non-communicable diseases, where tobacco is one of the risk factors.
Unfortunately, for a long time Russia was among leaders in terms of tobacco consumption. According to the results of the Global Survey, in 2009 almost 40% of adults in Russia were smokers.
This sad figure called for immediate measures on the part of the state. Joining the list of countries that ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was a starting-off point for us. The Convention is unique: it is the most quickly ratified and widely adhered health care treaty.
In 2010 we have established the National Anti-tobacco Concept that outlined the principal tobacco control measures on Russia, such as increasing prices and excise taxes for tobacco products, changing the tax policy, introduction of a comprehensive or partial ban on smoking in public places, measures to reduce the quantity of noxious substances in tobacco products, raising public awareness on the effects of tobacco consumption; ban on tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion; organization of medical assistance for citizens and treatment of tobacco addiction.
In 2013, our country took a major step adopting the Federal law on protection of the citizens from the effects of tobacco consumption and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, which implemented the basic measures recognized by the international community. For the first time public catering and transport facilities were made free of smoking, tobacco products advertising was banned, warning messages must be shown on TV before any program displaying smoking. The main merit of the law is its comprehensive nature, which enables it to consolidate norms from various branches of law into one set of measures. Thus, over the six years since Russia’s joining the Framework Convention we have introduced all the measures it stipulates.
As a result, the citizens of our country are now protected from secondhand smoke, our children do not see tobacco advertising anymore and all the forms of tobacco promotion are banned. Excise tax rates for tobacco go up every year outgrowing inflation. At the same time, everyone is entitled to a free medical examination, those who need medical aid including assistance to give up smoking can also get it free of charge. I would like to point out that during the first year over 35.5 million people went through the examination and almost one million called the special quit smoking hot line.
We heard opinions claiming the measures were too strict and would not find public approval, however, statistics proves that eight of 10 Russian citizens support the introduced anti-tobacco measures. Figures of compliance with the new bans are also high: 96% for public catering facilities and 89% for retail locations.
The new measures have yielded positive results: tobacco consumption dropped by 16-17%, mortality of all the main groups of non-communicable diseases considerably went down: back in 2011 this was the expected level of 2016 and 2020. The anticipated life expectancy has beaten its historic maximum approaching 72 years and exceeding 77 years for women. For the first time over 30 years, we register the natural population increase.
However, we are not ready to rest, slow down the rate of combating tobacco consumption in Russia or weaken the law, which has already proven to be effective. Considering this, I would like to communicate that the Government of Russian Federation has taken a decision to join the Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. The Ministry of Healthcare has already developed the corresponding draft law.
Dear colleagues! I am sure that this Conference of the Parties will make a significant contribution to the global progress of tobacco combating. I wish you health, constructive discussions and achievement of the planned goals. I also wish you to find some time and enjoy the opportunity to experience one of the most beautiful cities of the world: the capital of the Russian Federation, Moscow.
Thank you for your contribution!”