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Ukraine’s President Signs Strong Smoke-Free Law

June 13, 2012


Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych today signed life-saving smoke-free legislation into law, capping a year of significant progress in the country’s efforts to reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco use.

The new law requires smoke-free restaurants, bars and discos and also applies to buses and cultural and governmental facilities. The law expands the list of smoke-free places throughout Ukraine, which already includes health care, educational and sports facilities, other public transportation and playgrounds.

The new law will help reduce tobacco use in Ukraine and protect all Ukrainians from the serious health risks of secondhand smoke, which is proven to cause lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer. Worldwide, it kills more than 600,000 people each year.

Ukraine’s tobacco control movement has gained significant momentum over the past year. In May, President Yanukovych signed a law prohibiting the sale, use and advertising of tobacco products at venues for the Euro 2012 soccer tournament, which Ukraine is currently co-hosting with Poland. It continues a healthy trend of major sports events around the world being smoke-free and even completely tobacco-free.

Earlier this year, Ukraine enacted a national law significantly restricting tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorships. The law bans tobacco point-of-sale advertising and sponsorships. It also cracks down on “brand-stretching” tactics the tobacco industry uses to circumvent bans on direct marketing, such as putting tobacco brand names on non-tobacco products. The law also restricts tobacco industry strategies to gain influence, such as contributions to political, artistic, sports or educational organizations. This law strengthens existing prohibitions on tobacco advertising on television, billboards and most print publications.

With nearly 80 percent of Ukrainians supporting tobacco control initiatives, these new laws are both a health win and a political win for the country’s policymakers and citizens. They are big steps toward reducing tobacco’s terrible toll in Ukraine, where nearly one-fourth of all youth ages 13-15 smoke and approximately 115,000 people die each year from tobacco-related diseases.