Holy Smokes!

smokers.jpgFor many first-time visitors to Russia, the first thing they notice is the rather dramatic difference in the number of people smoking. Just in time for World No Smoke Day, Rospotrebnadzor has released statistics that makes Russia the #1 smoking country in the world, reporting that 65% of men and 30% of women regularly puff away their days. This is an unmitigated tragedy from a public health perspective, and is certainly no help to the rash of deadly fires in Russia: according to the New York Times, “High rates of alcoholism and smoking are also factors, fire officials say, because intoxicated people are often unable to escape fires, or inadvertently set them.” On the other hand, perhaps the elevated number of smokers is a sign of this mass affluence we keep hearing so much about?