Russia Tries to Improve Life Expectancy with Law Curbing Drinking and Smoking

            Last year, Russiaranked 164 among 222 nations on the subject of the average life expectancy. According to the Washington Post, Russian President Vladimir Putin, hours after his inauguration last May, signed a decree ordering his government to increase the life expectancy to 74 years in five years at latest.
            According to the CIA World Factbook’s estimates, Russian life expectancy was 66.5 years – 60.1 for men and 73.2 for women – in 2012. Reasons to such a low expectancy include the high consumptions of alcohol and smoking habits of more than half the male population.
            Poor demographic trends have troubled Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with a population of 148 million two decades ago reduced to about 143 million today. Putin alerted of the issue as he said the population could decline to 107 million by 2050 if trends are not reversed soon.
            Health officials say that approximately 300,000 Russians die every year from causes linked to alcohol, though its effect on mortality is controversial. A law went into effect authorizing beer as an alcoholic beverage instead of a food, which forbids any sales in omnipresent street-corner stands. With 60 percent of men smoking, Russia took action against the unhealthy, addictive practice as the upper house of parliament approved of the bill prohibiting smoking in public places, in which the lower house passed days before. However, advocates for better health, as said by the Post, claimed that Russia has more to do in order to lead longer lives.
            Dmitri Yanin, chairman of the Conference of Consumer Protection Societies shared, “Cigarettes are incredibly cheap. I think we can change consumer behavior eventually, but it won’t be quick because the law doesn’t include economic measures.” Yanin speaks no lie since popular cigarette brands sell in Russia for about a dollar a pack, with an additional 30 cents from taxes. About 20 billion packs of cigarettes a year are bought by the Russian population of 143 million, while the United States, with a population of 314 million, buys about 16 million packs. The consequence of the cheap and easily accessible cigarettes is about 400,000 deaths.  
            All in all,Russia did make effort and is still trying today to improve the average life expectancy. However, the question is if the life expectancy will improve to 74 years by 2018. Luigi Migliorini, the world Health Organization’s special representative toRussia stated, “Whether their goals can be achieved by 2020 is unclear, but setting ambitious targets moves the whole system forward.”