Medvedev’s healthy lifestyle 2.0: It’s time to say goodbye to vaping and hookah lounges?

According to the plan of the government of Russia, 60% of Russian citizens will lead a healthy lifestyle by 2025

Medvedev’s healthy lifestyle 2.0: It’s time to say goodbye to vaping and hookah lounges? Photo: Maksim Platonov

The Ministry of Health of Russia is going to ban vapes, hookahs, to dissuade women from abortion, to force everyone to give up smoking and start doing sports – these are the tasks listed in the priority project to develop a healthy lifestyle approved by Russian government on 7 August. The sum of 3,5 billion rubles will be allocated for the programme implementation from the federal budget, the same amount — from extra-budgetary sources. Read more in the article of Realnoe Vremya.

3,5 billion rubles for healthy lifestyle

Russian government has taken the task to cultivate in Russian citizens love for healthy lifestyle. The presidential council for strategic development and priority projects has approved the passport of the priority project ''The formation of healthy lifestyle.''

''Today, a significant number of people are quitting smoking, watching their weight, trying to walk more, trying different individual diet systems. If a child is engaged in physical activity from early childhood, it is likely that he will keep this habit for life. And this can and should be motivated,'' announced the discussion of the priority project Dmitry Medvedev.

The project is divided into three blocks: the first one is the formation of healthy lifestyle and conditions for it, the second one is the joint project with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rospotrebnadzor on the labelling of foods on their health benefits, and the third one is the joint campaign with the Ministry of Education on lessons in schools and kindergartens to promote healthy lifestyle. In total, it is planned to spend 3,5 billion rubles from the federal budget and to attract the same amount from extra-budgetary sources by 2025. The programme has the task to increase the number of Russians leading healthy lifestyle up to 60% by 2025.

''If a child is engaged in physical activity from early childhood, it is likely that he will keep this habit for life. And this can and should be motivated,'' announced the discussion of the priority project Dmitry Medvedev. Photo: prav.tatarstan.ru

Hookahs and electronic cigarettes will be banned by 15 May 2018

The most active discussion in the Network has been caused by a point in the project that doesn't require injections from the budget, namely — the reduction in consumption of electronic cigarettes and hookahs. It is expected by 25 February 2018 to develop normative-legal acts ''aimed at combating hookahs and vapes'', and by 15 May — the government to make decisions on the relevant laws and regulations.

''Public eating places will be completely banned to use hookahs and vapes. The general idea of the bill, which is being developed in the ministry, is that the use of vapes should be regulated like of conventional cigarettes.

Now many teenagers drink alcohol and smoke hookahs, as well as vapes. And it is not regulated by the law. We are going to allow their sale only to persons older than 18 years. All amendments to the bill were developed with the participation of specialists of the ministry,'' informed to Izvestiya in the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.

Restaurateurs are first to have losses?

First and foremost, the bill will affect the interests of restaurateurs — in the menu of many establishments hookahs have firmly entrenched. Although there are different opinions on this matter. Aydar Bulatov, the head of Bulatov Group, who owns five restaurants in Kazan and 13 fast food outlets in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, considers that the restaurants will be affected a little from the initiative.

''The sales share of hookahs is not big, so I think it would be wrong to say that there will be a loss for the industry. The concept of our institutions does not provide hookahs. When we were opening the burger place The Telki, we decided that there should be only the taste of the burger and no other odours mingle. The audience is being segmented, too — there are people who fundamentally do not go to places where people smoke hookahs, to avoid odours,'' said Aydar Bulatov to Realnoe Vremya.

Aydar Bulatov fully supports the idea to ban hookahs in public places. Photo: Roman Khasaev

''Some young women prefer to smoke hookah instead of a sweet dessert''

The director of the café chain Khinkalnaya in Kazan, Anastasia Limareva, has a completely different opinion on this issue. She assesses the loss of its introduction as significant. According to her, on Friday or Saturday evenings, about one third of the visitors order a hookah.

''A lot of people give up smoking tobacco, but the habit remains. After all, we live in Tatarstan, a Muslim city, and there is a tradition — to drink tea, smoke hookah. If we go to Turkey or Morocco, we will see that people sit in the evenings and savour hookah – it is a tradition. To make such decision [to ban hookah] is stupid. Some young women prefer to smoke hookah instead of a sweet dessert,'' says Limareva.

According to Anastasia Limareva, on Friday or Saturday evening, about one third of the visitors order hookah. Photo: vk.com

Alliance of participants of the electronic cigarettes market supports the ban on sales to persons under 18

The professional alliance of participants of the Russian market of electronic nicotine systems does not support the initiative to ban the hookahs and electronic cigarettes. According to the chairman of the board Maksim Korolev, vapes are allies of healthcare in combating smoking.

''It is necessary to differentiate between tobacco control and regulation of the market of electronic nicotine systems. In some ways they will be correlated — for example, in the prohibition of sales to minors, but everything else — retail selling, advertising, use in public places — it should be a completely different story,'' said Maksim Korolev to Realnoe Vremya.

According to Korolev, Russia has enough financial barriers to the use of electronic cigarettes, ''It is expensive, and only wealthy smokers can afford e-cigarettes.'' As for the hookahs, here Korolev wondered what is the need for limitations.

According to the narcologist, the problems cannot be solved with bans of hookahs and electronic cigarettes alone. Photo: ru.sputnik.kg

''We will receive the effect of ''prohibition of alcohol'', we have to explain to people what's the harm''

A narcologist Rustem Valiullin supports the initiative to ban vapes and hookahs. According to him, the transition from cigarettes to electronic devices is a replacement of one drug with another.

''The most harmful thing in tobacco is tar, second — flavouring agents, which the manufacturer adds in order the smoker bought their product. If to put the contents of a pack of cigarettes on the palm of your hand and look at it under 60 × magnification, this flavouring agent is seen in the form of red crystals. The same things is in vapes,'' said Valiullin.

Dependence and hookah as well as electronic cigarettes are identical to traditional cigarettes, ''When people feel uncomfortable — it is like to pull out their favourite pacifier of their mouth.'' Although Valiullin himself admits that when he was giving up smoking, he tried to distract himself with a hookah.

''For someone it helps if you want to give up smoking as well as chewing the seeds, for someone – it does not help, but creates another dependency,'' says the narcologist.

According to him, the problems cannot be solved with bans of hookahs and electronic cigarettes alone, ''We will receive the effect of ''prohibition of alcohol'', we should explain to people what's the harm.''

By Darya Turtseva