GORKI (Moscow Region), April 24 (RIA Novosti) – New legislation banning smoking in public places could save up to 200,000 lives annually in Russia, which has some of the highest rates of smoking in the world, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday.
“I hope that it [anti-smoking law] will contribute to reducing this factor [smoking],” Medvedev said at the first session of the government’s health protection committee.
Medvedev cited expert data according to which the ban will “not only save health but also up to 200,000 lives” a year, which is equal to “the population of a large Russian city.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the ban into the law on February 25. The law envisages a gradual ban on smoking in public, including in government buildings, healthcare and educational facilities, cultural sites, sports stadiums and on public transport.
The law comes into force on June 1, 2013, though some of its provisions, including a total ban on smoking in restaurants, trains and hotels, will only come into effect one year later.
The legislation also imposes a total ban on tobacco advertising. Tobacco companies will be barred from holding promotional prize draws and sponsoring public events and competitions.
The bill also prohibits display of tobacco products in shops. Sales in retail kiosks will be banned from June 2014, and minimum prices will be set for cigarettes, which currently cost from just 40 rubles ($1.30) a pack.
Russia signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control with the World Health Organization in 2008. This obliges Russia to enact tougher restrictions on tobacco by 2015.
A 2012 Tobacco Atlas report by the American Cancer Society and the World Lung Foundation found that 39.1 percent of Russian adults smoke, one of the world's highest rates of tobacco use.