Russia Passes Major Public Smoking Ban
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In an effort to limit the harm caused by second-hand smoking, a bill was passed by Russia’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday to ban smoking in public places. The bill is expected to be approved by the upper house of parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin within two weeks. “The good thing is that in the next year we will receive a smoke-free environment in restaurants, hospitals and public buildings,” says Dmitri Yanin, chairman of the Conference of Consumer Protection Societies. “It’s a big success.” Starting on June 1, 2013, smoking will be banned at hospitals, clinics, schools, universities, playgrounds, government buildings, apartment buildings stairwells, sports arenas, company offices, and on most public transportation. Beginning June 2014, the ban will extend to shopping centers, long-distance trains, and hotels. Tobacco sales will also be restricted to large stores, putting an end to sales at street kiosks. The bill has riled some—including the All-Russia Movement for the Rights of Smokers, who have lobbied hard for the establishment of smoking rooms in company offices to avoid businessmen smoking outside in the cold. “Too many bans means the law would not be enforced,” says Andrei Loskutov, executive director of the organization. “It would be humiliating for half of Russia’s population.” Approximately 60% of adult Russian men smoke, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that the habit kills around 400,000 citizens a year. The country has the second biggest tobacco market in the world, after China.