A new decree issued by the Turkmenistan president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedow has banned the sale of all tobacco products in the country. If a shop is found selling cigarettes they could face a fine of up to SR 5,500. Due to this, illegal black markets have surfaced on the streets of the Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat. Resultantly, the prices of famous Contraband cigarettes packet has skyrocketed over SR 40. Despite the complete government control of Turkmen media and it’s been ranked by Reporters without Borders as the country with third-worst press freedom in the world, after North Korea and Eritrea; the news of imposed ban on tobacco products has disseminated.
It is also noted that the Turkmen president enjoys healthy outdoor activities likes cycling and fishing and has very low opinions of cigarettes. Earlier this month a Colonel of the State Service for Protecting the Security of a Healthy Society was stripped of his title because he failed to encourage the smokers in Turkmenistan to quit. Similarly, another government official was warned that he would be dismissed if he did not take effective actions to eradicate the curse of tobacco from the country. However, the result of the implementation of this policy on the health of people of Turkmenistan, where life expectancy is just 65 years, is yet to be seen.
In my opinion, this is a very good move taken by the Turkmenistan President. Cigarette and other tobacco products are very harmful to the health of human beings. They can cause lungs cancers and reduces the life expectancy of an individual. Tobacco products are also very addictive in nature; in addition to their adverse health effects, they also incur heavy financial costs.
The government should take strict measures to tackle black market selling cigarettes illegally. Turkmenistan should seek inspiration from Saudi Arabia, whose government has effectively rooted out the problem of narcotics from their soil. They have imposed strict punishments which act as a deterrent for prospective drugs dealers and consumers. It is hoped, that one day the world would be free from all sorts of tobacco products by following the footsteps of Saudi Arabia in combating narcotics use.