On September 30, 2014, Moscow hosted the First International Conference on Smokers’ Rights. Delegates from Australia, Belarus, Croatia, Cuba, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine attended the meeting – 16 countries that in total account for more than 250 million adult smokers.
The honorary guests of the Conference were Mikhail Boyarskiy, Co-chairman of the All-Russian Smokers’ Rights Movement, John Mallon, leader of FOREST Éireann (Ireland) and Samuel Nitisaputra, Secretary General of the Smokers’ Club of Indonesia. Andrey Loskutov, Executive Director of the All-Russian Smokers’ Rights Movement, acted as moderator of the meeting.
Participants of the Conference discussed global trends of tobacco regulation. It was noted that many countries adhere to the balanced approach to tobacco regulation, but some governments take very radical steps to exterminate smoking, turning adult smokers into social outcasts. Russia is an unfortunate example of the latter approach, having enacted one of the world’s most tough anti-tobacco laws.
Everybody was deeply concerned by the raising efforts to stigmatize and discriminate people who have consciously chosen tobacco as a part of their everyday life.
Romanian Smokers’ Association expressed its deep concern on how legislation in the European Union is considering smokers as second class citizens that only have obligations and no rights.
During the conference, participants were able to voice their concerns on the manner on which the international community understands regulation of a perfectly legal behavior and the discrimination that smokers are starting to experience in the past decades.
While everybody agrees that a balance between smokers and non-smokers need to be reached, it is the conviction of the Romanian Smokers’ Association that such balance cannot be reached by transforming smokers in the favorite target for abusive legislation.
Concluding the Conference, all participants signed a joint memorandum, calling governments of the world “to find the right balance on tobacco-related issues, taking into account the diversity of opinions, customs, behavioral norms, and not to ignore the interests of both smokers and non-smokers.”