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    Russia's lower house of parliament ratified on Friday a global convention against smoking, which the World Health Organization says kills 5 million people across the world annually.

    MOSCOW, April 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's lower house of parliament ratified on Friday a global convention against smoking, which the World Health Organization says kills 5 million people across the world annually.

    The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is designed to make it easier for national governments to implement tobacco controls, including a ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship. Such steps could prevent millions of people from picking up the smoking habit.

    "By 2030, tobacco smoking will become one of the strongest factors leading to early deaths," Deputy Health Minister Yury Voronin said speaking at a State Duma session before the ratification.

    Voronin urged measures to curb smoking and cited WHO forecasts that by 2020, 10 million people a year could die of smoking-related diseases.

    The head of the State Duma healthcare committee said the ratio of smokers and non-smokers in Russia is twice as high as that in Western Europe, and 400-500,000 people die of smoking-related diseases in the country every year.

    Olga Borzova earlier said Russia could pass a national strategy against smoking, which would comply with the WHO convention requirements, this year.

    Under the convention, tobacco advertising should be banned completely within five years from its ratification, and heath warnings should occupy at least 30% of cigarette packaging within three years.

    Under the FCTC, countries are also encouraged to raise taxes on tobacco producers, eliminate the illicit trade in tobacco products, ban tobacco sales to and by minors, and promote agricultural diversification and alternative livelihoods for tobacco producers.

    In recent years, tobacco producers have shifted their focus on the developing world, where about 70% of tobacco is now consumed.

    A total of 172 countries are signatories to the FCTC, which was adopted in 2003. Russia's government approved a draft law to join the global treaty this January.

    In a report on global tobacco control efforts in February, the WHO urged greater commitment from countries in implementing key tobacco control measures, saying among other things that national governments collect 500 times more money in tobacco taxes each year than they spend on anti-tobacco efforts.

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