Smoking Banned on Balconies as Russia Moves to Raise Fire Safety

Smokers in Russia are fuming at the latest fire safety legislation adopted to decrease the number of fires caused by human error, AFP reported.

From October 1, any “open fire”, including lighting cigarettes on balconies of residential houses or hotels is banned, a decree signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said.

“In 60 per cent of cases, the cause of balcony fires are careless smoking,” the emergencies ministry said Friday, adding that it was not waging war on smokers.

The measures, it said, are meant to decrease the number of fires started on balconies – which numbered over 2,000 in 2019.

If a fire starts due to violation of the new ban, the culprit will have to at the very least pay a fine, and possibly be charged with a crime if it is serious.

Smoking on balconies has remained an option for Russians after the government’s previous anti-smoking measures banned smoking in building stairwells and many other public spaces. Those bans are hardly enforced and many can still be seen smoking in restricted areas, including outside metro stations, on bus stops and train platforms, AFP writes.

Smokers in Moscow, where the entire population lives in apartment blocks, have not been happy.

“This is humiliating,” 52-year-old YuliaVolkova-Voroshilova told AFP. “Now only rich people with their own land and house will be able to smoke, and poor people can’t do anything.”

“You can’t make people quit smoking with measures like these,” said Natalia Selvestrenko, 40. “I will continue smoking on my balcony. Who is going to see me there?”