The recent statistics reveals that 44 million Russians smoke, which is a third of the population. The shocking figures that prove that Russian has one of the world's highest smoking rates make the government speak about the country’s Tobacco 'Epidemic'. The percentage of Russia's newest smokers - women and teenagers - is skyrocketing. Tobacco Control journal reports that 7% of women smoked in 1992, compared with 15% in 2003. The up-to date figures are even higher. Sociologists say 25 % of today women smoke and the percentage is steadily growing.
On average Russian girls start smoking at the age of 15 or 16. The survey made among the high school students in Russia show that 53% of teen boys and 25% of girls smoke. The high penetration of smoking in early teen years, and a growing participation of women makes the specialists predict horrific health crisis in Russia. Smoking among women is blamed for low birth rates and therefore current Russian demographic crisis, not to say about life span reduction.
Tobacco smoking in Russia is a social and therefore acceptable habit. Besides, Russian Federation is the world's second-largest tobacco market and is Philip Morris's biggest market mainly because the government has enacted no significant antismoking measures since the fall of communism, when Western firms flooded into Russia. Besides, tobacco lobby has influenced all the state measures to reduce smoking so far.
Tobacco companies are now aggressively targeting women and teenagers In 2009, Russia was the largest market worldwide for slim/ultra slim cigarettes, which are generally targeted towards young women. These types of cigarettes often feature flowers on their packaging. Aromatic cigarettes are also the latest, greatest thing.
The government was taking actions to ban tobacco ads and cigarettes promotion on TV and in film beginning in 2011. However there are still ads in magazines and on the subway which attract young smokers by depicting the habit as part of a glamorous way of life. There are also company-sponsored events at nightclubs and elsewhere where cigarettes are distributed free. Sampling in the streets in not rare. The government claims the eagerness to do everything possible to combat the country’s high smoking rates. At the moment the taxes are being increased and cigarettes are being made more expensive. Warning labels on cigarette packages that read, “Smoking Kills” were introduced in June 2011. The messages range from warnings of lung cancer through wrinkles to impotence and will also come with information on the amount of nicotine and resins. And that smoking can cause heart attacks, strokes, death and impotence, among other things. Billboards two years ago showing a model wearing a dress made of cigarettes have given way to pictures of a sleeping infant with a cigarette placed on its back and the message: "Smoking in child's presence is a much bigger torture for him." More measures are on the way to ban smoking in public places, bars and restaurants to take place by 2015 Starting in 2014 smoking in long-distance trains, in passenger vessels and in the public zones of airports and railway stations would be completely prohibited.
The situation seems to be a bit better in Ukraine. The researchers of World Health Organization’s Ukraine office register the decline in nation’s smoking . A significant number of Ukrainian men and women have stopped smoking since 2005. The nation's smoking prevalence had been 37 percent in 2005. In 2010 28.8 % percent of Ukrainian adults smoked, half of whom are men. However the increase in proportion of women smoking and a reduction in the mean age at first smoking were observed as well. The public opinion is against smoking - more than 90 percent of the population supports a total ban on smoking in the workplace.
The attitude to smokers in Russia, Ukraine and some other Post Soviet states remains tolerant compared to this Western countries. The surveyors state that the number of Russian women who smoke has more than doubled since the collapse of the Soviet Union. And not only the cigarettes availability and cheapness as well as marketing tactics are to blame. The attitude to a woman who smokes was invariably negative in the past. Today a tobacco smoking woman is so frequent that female-smoking is almost taken for granted. Women were very fast to hook on this habit. Many of them are however light smokers and only spark up socially. Factors associated with smoking among women include young age, urban residence, material hardship, and stress and attempts to lose weight. Some women only have a puff in a company. Since smoking at the work place is allowed almost everywhere in Russia it is hard to resist a cigarette when everybody smokes. Smoking is a kind of a ritual for some women, a meditation that helps collect thoughts and relax. Some, especially young women think smoking is sexy and approach it as tactic for attracting men. Glamorous magazines which Russian girls are impressed with quite often impose “sophisticated” image of a smoking woman making a pack of cigarette no different from a fashion accessory.
Alcoholism is even bigger tragedy of the nation then smoking. It is estimated that approximately one-third of all deaths are related, either directly or indirectly, to alcohol abuse or to alcoholism. In a country where an estimated 10 percent of the population is alcoholic women already represent a sizable proportion of the nation’s lushes. The features that have always been associated with masculinity — smoking, drinking and shooting — being repackaged for women. In the Soviet times the drinking men and women ration was 10:1. In 1993 there was a stunning increase in alcoholism in women by 48.1%. 80-94% of girls between 15 and 17 drank sometimes and 17% drank often. The last years statistics register even more increase in regular alcohol consumption among Russian women.
Alcoholism affects negatively both men and women. However women are more prone to emotional stress then men. Family crisis, work problems, feeling lonely losing role of wife, mother, or worker or on the contrary overwhelming responsibilities may increase a woman's risk for abusing alcohol. Younger women report higher rates of drinking-related problems than older women do. Women who have never married or who are divorced or separated are more likely to drink heavily and experience alcohol-related problems than women who are married or widowed. Unmarried women living with a partner are more likely still to engage in heavy drinking and to develop drinking problems. Married women who are inclined to codependency may develop guilt for the husbands’ problems or dissatisfaction. They tend to take total responsibility for the environment and psychological comfort in the family and therefore become fond of glass. Alcohol abuse hits both well-off and socially and financially insecure women. The additional risk factors include drinking spouse, partner or relatives, hard labor, poverty, low social status and education level, depression, loss of work and property, work in pub, criminal way of life and prostitution, mental disability, weak will or character defects.
Russians have an amusing difference in attitude to drinking men and women. A man with drinking problems causes pity whereas a woman that abuses alcohol is a target of rage and contempt. The psychologists suggest that this is explained by instinctive fear as the female alcoholism is much more dangerous and destructive.
Most popular drinks among women are low-alcohol cocktails, beer, wine and champagne. Canned low-alcohol cocktails are in great abundance on the counters of Russian stores now and many women think them to be nice and harmless drinks. Some consume daily after work. New alcohol drinks or flavors in glamorously designed bottles hit the female market in Russia while the doctors fear this would sweep the new wave of alcoholism across the female population
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Russia is home to 1.6 million injecting drug users, and women are believed to make up as many as 40 percent. Yet local harm reduction groups report as few as one in six of their clients is female of the under 30 age group The same substances considered illegal in the US are illegal in Russia. Non medical usage of drugs has increased 60% times during the last 10 years and continues to grow. Drug abuse is a problem of all population groups but the effects of female narcotic addiction is more damaging for the country population and national health as it pushes up congenital health problems in newborn, child neglects and crime not to say about drug-related HIV epidemic. Russia has the higher grown of HIV infection in the world outside of Sub-Saharan countries. The number of children born to HIV-infected mothers has risen from 211 to 2,777 of 2.3 million births in the last 10 years. Women try drugs mainly because of the addicted partner they initially want to support, psychological trauma or loss of social roles.
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