'People should smoke and drink more’, says Russian finance minister
Russia’s finance minister has told people to smoke and drink more, explaining that higher consumption would help lift tax revenues for spending on social services.
Speaking as the Russian government announces plan to raise duty on alcohol and cigarettes, Alexei Kudrin said that by smoking a pack, “you are giving more to help solve social problems such as boosting demographics, developing other social services and upholding birth rates”.
“People should understand: Those who drink, those who smoke are doing more to help the state,” he told the Interfax news agency.
It's rare to see this truism expressed so candidly, but the minister is only saying what every economist and historian already knows. He is well aware that raising the price of a pack of cigarettes from 85p to 95p will have little, if any, effect on smoking rates, and he doesn't bother pretending that tax rises are designed for anything other than raising money. Nor does he go along with the Western fallacy that drinkers and smokers are a drain on the economy.
The Russians are gloriously off-message when it comes to public health spin-doctoring, and who can blame them?