The president of Turkmenistan has banned the sale of all tobacco products, if reports from within the tightly-controlled nation are to be believed.
A new decree allegedly bans the sale of all tobacco products, with shops facing a fine of up to about $2,000 (or 6,900 manats in Turkmen currency) if they are caught selling cigarettes.
Chrono-TM, an independent website reporting on Turkmen affairs from outside the repressive nation's borders, reports that a black market has sprung up on the streets of the capital, Ashgabat. Contraband packets of cigarettes are already fetching about $10.
The Turkmen media is totally controlled by the government. Reporters Without Borders list Turkmenistan as the country with the third-worst press freedom in the world, with only North Korea and Eritrea ranked as more repressive. (Under President for Life Sapamurat Niyazov, who died in 2006, all TV transmissions began with an oath that the broadcaster's tongue would shrivel if he spoke ill of the country, its flag, or the president.)
Nonetheless, word has made it out of the country about the latest policy imposed by the current president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. As part of a quasi-personality cult around the President, he is often seen enjoying healthsome outdoor activities such as cycling and fishing, and as such it seems that he does not think much of cigarettes.
Read more at Indy.