Putin Signs Anti-Smoking Law Banning Public Smoking In Russia

Public smoking in Russia will soon be a thing of the past with President Vladimir Putin signing a new anti-smoking legislation. The BBC reports that the first stage of the legislation will come into effect on June 1, 2013 when smoking will be prohibited in workplaces, beaches, children’s playgrounds and within fifteen yards of entrances to apartment blocks, transport stations and ports. The next stage of the law will be implemented on June 1, 2014, which will see smoking banned in hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes as well as in shops and on long distance trains and ships.

As a part of the new law, cigarettes in Russia will also have a set minimum price, and new restrictions on tobacco sales and advertising will come into effect.

The law, which is officially called “On Protecting The Health Of Citizens From The Danger Of Passive Smoking And The Consequences Of The Use Of Tobacco,” was passed in Russian parliament earlier in February with only one member opposing the change. Reuters reports Putin signed the law on Saturday, but it was not made public until Monday.

The Washington Post reports that the tough new anti-smoking laws are an action taken from the decree signed by Putin hours after his inauguration in May 2012, which ordered his governance to increase the average life expectancy in Russia from 66.5 years to 74 years by 2018. The average life expectancy in the United States is 78.5. About 400,000 Russians die from tobacco-related diseases every year.

Four out of every ten Russians are smokers, and tobacco sales in Russia were estimated at around $22 billion in 2011, making Russia the second biggest tobacco market after China. Russia’s new anti-smoking laws have been opposed by foreign tobacco companies fearing a sharp decline in sales.

The new Russian smoking laws are intended to meet some of the conditions of the tobacco control treaty put forward by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2008. In 2011, the WHO put forward another set of recommendations to curb smoking in Russia, which these new smoking bans do partly address.