´nishchenko by Way of Scolding of Tobacco Corporations Prepares Smokers to a Sharp Price Hike

Russian Agency for Health and Consumer Rights will submit judicial claims concerning tobacco manufacturers marking their products as "light" and "superlight" cigarettes. As the chapter of the Agency Gennady Onishchenko declared after termination of the advisory council on protection of the rights of consumers, the statement of tobacco manufacturers that those inscriptions are a brand - "cynical deceit".

According to Onishchenko, tobacco manufacturers aspire to achieve fixing in the technical rules on tobacco of the names "light" and "superlight" cigarettes.

Chapter of Russian Agency for Health and Consumer Rights also accused manufacturers of tobacco that they intentionally did not let prices in a cheap segment of cigarettes which density made about 40 percent of the tobacco market rise. "Thus they involve youth in process of smoking", - "Interfax" quotes ´nishchenko.

From editorial board: We have already written that actions of the main health officer on such complex field as tobacco industry are "Khuschev-like" rectilinear and do not give bases to suspect mister Onishchenko of superfluous competence.

Tobacco products are excise goods - increase of excise will inevitably lead to the rise in price of cigarettes. What does prevent the state from increasing excise? Tobacco companies can do it only by one way - using corruption mechanisms. How else it is possible to force the state to take from the companies less, than it is possible?

However, tobacco companies have one more advantage - today they are monopolists in the Russian market, besides all of them today are - foreign, transnational. Why did the state give strategically important segment of national economy to foreigners? There is no answer.

However, arguments of Mister Onishchenko that the youth is being involved in smoking tobacco because of cheapness of certain sorts are not absolutely correct.

Cheap sorts are usually domestic, expensive - American ones. Both these and those are made at the factories belonging to transnational corporations but the consumer of these cigarettes are different and passing from domestic, "east" type of tobacco to the American "virgin" - in general, is rarity. Those who started smoking "Java", continues to smoke it.

Speaking honestly, if the state cares so much for the health of citizens, it is possible to forbid in general the sale of tobacco products in the country. But social consequences will be very serious - "tobacco revolts" of August, 1990 are still memorable.

If the state simply wants to lift excise and to force poorer smokers of domestic sorts to pay fully, it's absolutely other business. Here a question arises - if it strikes on tobacco companies? They are - monopolists, you have nothing to do but to buy their products under any price which will be declared. In same 1990 the price of a pack of "Java" rose in price from 35 copecks up to a rouble at once, then up to three but everybody got accustomed to it at once.

Actually, preservation and modernization of domestic sorts of cigarettes was some kind of a burden which Yeltsin's mode, being afraid of social consequences of monopolization of the Russian market by "Philip Moris" (FM) and "British American Tobacco" (BAT) shifted to those transnational corporations. By and large, it would be more favourable to them to stop production of all present domestic sorts and "to retrain" smokers to the American cigarettes. Instead of it they had to invest in creation on the basis of old Russian and Soviet brands of actually new sorts corresponding to world requirements under content of pitches and nicotine. And then - to sell these cigarettes 3-4 times cheaper, than own sorts.

In fact, there is an impression that tobacco companies decided to not agree further more with such order of things and on the sly to reconsider the "burden" connected with preservation of social stability in the market of cheap Russian tobacco. At that to make it not due to the growth of excises that is incomes of the state but "on demand of the public" to raise the base price and to put difference in a pocket of the companies.

For the sake of such affair it is possible to allow to criticize themselves - they have already got used to it, all world abuses them. But still smoking is desirable. That's all, having envied FM and BAT for a while, people run to tobacco stall to buy cigarettes produced by them.

ßnatoly Baranov