Russian MPs to debate harshest-ever anti-smoking bill

A nationwide ban on smoking in public places may soon turn into law, warns the Russian Health Ministry.

­The draft law has been submitted for MPs’ consideration. If passed, the bill will be tougher on smokers than legislation in most European countries.

Smoking Ban

A burning cigarette in the hand

The legislation radically clamps down on tobacco addicts, leaving them virtually nowhere to smoke, but for their own homes and on the street.

Smoking will gradually be banned in offices; educational, medical, sports and cultural facilities, along with public areas of residential buildings. Additionally, smoking will be prohibited inside restaurants and hotels, at marketplaces, and on public transport.

The bill stipulates a dramatic price rise on cigarettes, up to the European level – at least 1.28 euro per pack. It also bans cigarette sales at public catering venues, street stands and stalls. Cigarettes will be sold only at shops of at least 50 square meters in area.

In other measures, it will be prohibited to display cigarette packs at showcases – potential buyers will have to make their choice from a price list only. The aim is to prevent the uptake of smoking among young people under 18.

Cigarettes and smoking in children’s movies will be subject to censorship. Tobacco companies will not be able sponsor educational and sports organizations, healthcare and cultural institutions.

The Health Ministry hopes that once the law is adopted, it will reduce tobacco consumption by 40 to 50 per cent, and bring down the mortality rate by 150,000 to 200,000 a year in the country.

Currently, up to 40 per cent of Russians (43.9 million) are smokers, while about 80 per cent are passive smokers.

The Russian Union of Consumers has not supported the bill, citing the example of Greece, where 38 per cent of people continue to smoke despite the ban. In Sweden, meanwhile, only 16 per cent of the population smoke, with special smoking-friendly rooms at restaurants and at workplaces.

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