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Ukraine: New Restrictions on Smoking Introduced

(May 31, 2012) On May 24, 2012, the Verkhovna Rada (legislature) of Ukraine adopted a law amending several previously passed laws regulating consumption of tobacco products (Text of the law [in Ukrainian], Verkhovna Rada website (last visited May 25, 2012)). The law, which was introduced by a group of Rada members last November, expands the list of places where smoking is prohibited or restricted (id.)

The law applies to the use of tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, and hookahs and states that smoking is entirely forbidden in elevators, payphone booths, children's playgrounds, restaurants and other food establishments, and the premises of government and municipal institutions. Additionally, a total ban on smoking is introduced in all types of healthcare, educational, cultural, recreational, and sport facilities and surrounding areas (id.).

The law reinforced a ban on smoking on porches of residential buildings, in underground passages, and on all means of public transportation and in transportation waiting areas, which had been established in 2005. (Vidomosti Verkhovnoi Rady Ukrainy [BULLETIN OF THE VERKHOVNA RADA OF UKRAINE (official gazette)], No. 52, Item 565 (2005).)

The law obligates managers and owners of all enterprises, hotels, and dormitories to designate ventilated smoking zones not to exceed ten percent of the overall area of an institution. Similar zones are to be established at airports and train stations. Noncompliance with these requirements after six months from the date the law enters into force will be punished with a fine in an amount from 1,000 to 10,000 Ukrainian Hryvnas (about US$123-1,230). The same fine will be imposed on restaurant managers if visitors smoke or if ashtrays are placed on the tables (Text of the law, supra).

Reportedly, members of the Verkhovna Rada who initiated the Law ordered the closure of the smoking room inside the legislature. (V Verkhovnoi Rade Zakroyut Kurilku [Smoking Room Will Be Closed in the Verkhovna Rada (in Russian)], KORRESPONDENT.NET (May 24, 2012).)

Because of the apparent ineffectiveness of previously issued antitobacco legislation, the Members of the Rada are not sure that the newly introduced bans will be effective. As some of the Members stated, the “strict nature of Ukrainian laws is softened by the selective character of their implementation.” (Deputaty ne Veriat, Shto Zakon o Zaprete Kureniia Budet Rabotat [MP's Do Not Believe That the Smoking Ban Will Be Enforced (in Russian)], TSN.UA (Mar. 21, 2012).) The Rada has actively legislated in the field of smoking regulation. Bans on advertisement of tobacco products and their sale in the vicinity of schools were introduced, and bills proposing smoking prohibitions for pregnant women, drivers, and persons in the presence of minors were initiated. (V Ukraine Predlagayut Zapretit Kurenie v Avtomobliiakh [Smoking in Cars May Be Banned in Ukraine (in Russian)], KORRESPONDENT.NET (June 7, 2011).)

The law has caused dissatisfaction among smokers in Ukraine, who intend to appeal it in court, demanding its abolishment. (Na Ukraine Vveli Totalnyi Zapret na Kurenie [Total Smoking Ban Is Established in Ukraine (in Russian)], LENTA.RU (May 24, 2012).) According to a World Health Organization survey, 28.8% of the Ukrainian population smoked in 2010. (WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2011, Country Profile Ukraine (2011).)

Mr. Virab Khachatryan, a Law Library Intern, contributed to this report