February 20, 2008 - Russia's Duma (the Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament) this week is discussing the crucial second reading of amendments to the 2001 Federal Law on smoking, which at the time outlawed cigarettes in the workplace and on planes. The latest amendments - drawn up by nine deputies from Putin's United Russia party, which dominates the Duma - seek to extend the smoking ban to cafes, bars and nightclubs.
The Duma is scheduled to vote on the proposed changes in March, after which they must be passed in a third reading, approved by the upper house - the Federation Council - and signed into law by President Dmitry Medvedev.
Russia's entry last spring into the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
According to the Health Ministry, up to half a million people die from smoking-related diseases each year in Russia, where a packet of cigarettes retails at around 30 rubles ($0.82) - well below Western European prices. Russia's population has contracted by more than two million in three years now - standing at almost 142 million toward the end of 2008. The country’s 60 million smokers (two thirds of men and a third of women are smokers) puffed their way through an estimated 340 billion cigarettes last year (2005), compared with 141 billion in 1996.
The Russian tobacco industry generates around $12 billion annually, with Japan Tobacco Inc. Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco Ltd. the major players.
The majority of the Russian population would support considerable strengthening of tobacco control policies but there is also a need for effective public education campaigns.
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Reference: Russia To Debate Ban On Smoking In Restaurants, Bars, MorningStar.com - Dow Jones, 2/19/2009.
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