Malawi’s Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) has said Russia’s decision to ban smoking in public places will negatively affect the tobacco industry in Malawi.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed a tough bill into a law which will from June this year prohibit smoking in schools, restaurants, long-distance trains and housing block entrance halls.
The Russian Government has made reducing smoking one of the cornerstones of its bid to improve public health.
The country will also ban sales of tobacco products from street kiosks, restrict advertising and set minimum prices of cigarettes which now cost 50 to 60 roubles (K740) per pack.
But in an interview last week, TCC chief executive officer Bruce Munthali described this as a blow to the tobacco industry in the country, saying the ban and restrictions may discourage some Russians from smoking or others may end up quitting it altogether.
“What this ban will do is to limit intake of tobacco products by Russians. This is one of the most populous countries in the world and its economy is picking up and as a country, we could greatly benefit if the ban was not enforced,” said Munthali.
The ban comes at a time other countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Australian also banned smoking in public places.
In 2010, Russia accounted for 4.4 percent of world smokers, coming second after China where 28 percent of the population smoker.
Before the law was signed it faced opposition from foreign tobacco companies that dominate a cigarette market estimated to be worth $22 billion in 2011 by Euromonitor International, a market research company.
Tobacco is Malawi’s major export crop, accounting for 60 percent of its export earnings.