New York: Russia`s Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin on Wednesday asked citizens to smoke and drink more, saying that higher consumption would help lift tax revenues for spending on social services.
"If you smoke a pack of cigarettes, that means you are giving more to help solve social problems such as boosting demographics, developing other social services and upholding birth rates," Kudrin was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
"People should understand: Those who drink, those who smoke are doing more to help the state," he said.
The Russian government announced plans to raise excise duty on alcohol and cigarettes.
Alcohol and cigarette consumption are already high in Russia, where 65 percent of men smoke and the average Russian consumes 18 litres of alcoholic liquid per year, according to The New York Post.
Russian cigarettes sell at around USD 1.30 per pack and unfiltered cigarettes selling for even less. The duties on cigarettes are among the lowest in Europe, NYP reported.
Official figures indicate that alcohol abuse negatively impacts male life expectancy, which is lower than in such developing countries as Bangladesh and Honduras. It also kills 500,000 Russians every year.