Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Care for a Smoke?

Do you smoke? I asked my taxi driver recently.

Yes. Were you wanting to smoke too? he asked me from the mirror.

No, no, in my life I’ve never smoked a cigarette. But I was wondering if you do.

It was a Sunday morning several weeks ago and instead of walking 25 minutes to the church building, I had called a cab. That’s a treat I allow myself on Sunday mornings and it gives me a few minutes for great conversation practice and our topic would be smoking, I had already decided. Not that I'm controlling or anything, you understand.

Yes, I’ve been smoking since I was 14.

I told him about stats I’d read, that 60 percent of Russian men smoke and 30 percent of women.

Oh it’s much higher than that, lots higher. And what’s really terrible is when young ladies smoke.

That’s worse than guys smoking?

Yes, it’s a thousand times worse. It just looks terrible. Worse of all is when pregnant women smoke.

He was such a nice looking young man. Tall and lanky, chiseled cheek bones, dark hair, a nice smile. I hated to think of what smoking was doing to him.

Russia is the biggest smoking market in Europe, third biggest in the world, behind the US and China. Cigarette sales have doubled since 1996 and in the last 20 years, the number of smokers has mushroomed.

This is taking a toll on Russian health and lifespan, of course. In 2006, 400,000 nationals died of smoking-related illnesses. And in a country where the population is shrinking because of emigration and low birth rate, this is setting off alarms.

In the works is a ban on all cigarette advertising in Russia, in addition to existing bans on outdoor, television and radio advertising. If the law is passed, companies will pay higher taxes and most certainly pass that along to the consumer. Higher prices might help slow down sales.

At 40 rubles a pack – around $1.63 – cigarettes are still inexpensive here. Besides that, cigarettes can be purchased individually for 2 to 3 rubles each – 10 to 13 cents – and even kids can afford that. And many of them do.

When I was five, I decided to become a smoker. Daddy, when I grow up I'm going to smoke just like you, or so goes family legend. Dad had returned from the army with a smoking habit. But he threw out the habit and his Marlboros at the thought of my joining him.

How about you - ever been a smoker? Tried to quit? Do you smoke second-hand?


Eileen said...

Glenda Schoonmaker said...

Eileen, This is the first time I've gotten to visit your blog and I'm eager to read some of your past entries. Everything sounds so intriguing! My time is limited so I'll have to read hit and miss. By the way, I just finished the WD class with you and am glad you gave your blog address---I love getting to know people.

I have a much neglected blog but hope to be able to keep it up (along with everything else in my writing that I'm behind on) this year.

Glenda www.glendaschoonmaker.blogspot.com
8:41 PM

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Tammy said...

Thanks for the note! Yes, I'm part of the "certain women" in this part of Europe. I live near Zhitomir, living with a Ukrainian family (in the village!) I work with INSTE, a discipleship & leadership training program, spending most of my time working with it in Russian & Ukrainian languages (thus, the Zhitomir office.) But 8 years ago I started off in Hungary, & rent a place here (with certain women.) It makes it easier to go to Romania where we're working on translation of our materials there. New colleagues are here now to work with the HU INSTE program. On a broader level, I oversee INSTE in Europe-- so I get to travel a lot!
This trip back, has mostly been spent getting colleagues settled here & been to Romania a couple of times to check on things there. Going back again Friday to Zhitomir.
When your friend comes to Zhito, let me know! I'd love to meet her (& you, if you come!) I'd love to introduce you to INSTE, too. It's a wonderful program for the Church. We're always looking for new church contacts, & would love to start the work in Russia when the Lord opens it up.
My friends now consider you a friend. Love your way of introducing life & culture. Would it be ok to post a link to your blog on ours?
Thanks again for the note. By the way, I've never smoked either!

Kyle & Svet Keeton said...

I personally never smoked, even tried!

I know people who quited smoking the reason ALWAYS was a choice between Life and Death. They all had a hart problems - they quited and still alive!

I know young women who quited temporally when they were pregnant and feeded babies by breath... Then they started smoking aging. I never could understand why!

Who knows maybe I don't understand a lot in life ;).

Best wishes and thank you for good article,

Eileen said...

Glenda, thanks so much for stopping by! I went to your blog and it's so interesting - and to think that you are a publisher - Salute to you! Any more writing classes coming up for you?

Tammy, thank you for the information about your work and service. Developing national leadership - I agree, oh so important! Sounds as though you do get around and keep quite busy. About linking to this blog, please do ! I would be flattered to be linked to *a certain* blog. =)

Hey Svet, yes amazing about smoking isn't it? It must just be so addictive - but interesting that many can and do quit when it's a life or death matter, as you mentioned. Thanks always for stopping by! And thanks for the great work you do on Your site!

Take care, Eileen (Береги себя!)