Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Molodets! (?)

So yesterday my friends told me that smoking is now banned on the streets of Kazakhstan. I didn't believe this (given the amount of smoking here.) But I quick google search turned up this news article today:

Kazakhstan Bans Smoking In Public Places
ASTANA -- A law has come into force in Kazakhstan banning smoking in public places, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

According to the legislation adopted last month, smoking is now officially banned in schools, hospitals, clinics, cinemas, theaters, circuses, concerts, exhibition halls, sports arenas, stadiums, and other covered places used for public entertainment and recreation, including night clubs.

People will also be restricted from smoking inside airports and railway and bus stations.

Tobacco items will also not be available in shops selling goods for children.

Cigarettes can also not be sold to individuals under the age of 18.

Violators of the new law can be fined up to $500.

I also found this:

Kazakhstan bans public smoking, raises drinking age
(AFP) – Sep 29, 2009

ALMATY — Kazakhstan's government said Tuesday it would impose a total ban on smoking in public places and raise the drinking age to 21, a rare step in the hard-drinking, heavy-smoking former Soviet Union.

"We are now following the recommendations of the World Health Organization, according to whose data more than 30,000 people die every year in Kazakhstan from smoking," health ministry spokeswoman Agmagul Abenova told AFP.

"We also continue to struggle against alcoholism, and therefore have introduced new regulations against it," she added.

The new regulations, published in Kazakh newspapers on Tuesday, come into effect October 9.

Kazakhstan already bars people from smoking in public venues, such as stadiums and on public transport, but the new rules extend the ban to the Central Asian country's notoriously smokey bars and nightclubs.

Although many European nations have public smoking bans, few ex-Soviet countries have followed suit, and none besides conservative Tajikistan have raised the legal drinking age.

Kazakhstan's smoking ban does not match the strictness of neighbouring Turkmenistan where former dictator Saparmurat Niyazov barred smoking even on the streets.

Alcoholism and smoking-related illnesses are a major health problem in the former Soviet Union, which saw a huge decline in average male life expectancy following the collapse of Communism nearly two decades ago.

Kazakhstan's drinking age was previously 18.

I guess the real test will be how much these are enforced. It's strange to these things just seem to come out of Astana. I can't imagine laws like this changing in America without stories all over the news. Even smoking bans in Athens, created crowded city hall meetings. I remember the controversy. Here, I don't think anyone even knows.

And for the record, I'm on the fence about smoking bans in private establishments. It's good for me, but I think it infringes on the owner's ability to run the establishment like he or she wants.

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