Vladimir Putin passes anti-smoking law in Russia
In a nicotine-addicted country such as Russia, where an estimated 40% of the adult population are smokers, it was only a matter of time before the government decided to tackle the issue head on. The time has come now though with news that Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed new anti-smoking legislation that will ban smoking in public places. The new law will be introduced in two stages; From 1 June 2013, Russians will no longer be able to light-up on at railway stations, on municipal transport, in lifts and bus stations, administrative buildings and any place of education or health. Then, precisely one year later on 1 June 2014, the ban will extend to also cover ships, long distance trains, train platforms, hotels, cafés and restaurants. In addition to the ban in public areas, the law will forbid any advertising of tobacco products, tobacco companies will not be allowed to sponsor any events and a minimum retail price will be introduced for cigarettes. Russia has the world’s second largest tobacco market after China and the new law is just the latest in many actions President Putin has taken to promote healthy lifestyles since he began a new six-year term in 2012. Parliament passed the bill earlier in this month and only one deputy in the State Duma voted against the anti-smoking legislation, which will be called “On protecting the health of citizens from the danger of passive smoking and the consequences of the use of tobacco”. The Russian government say that the health related problems directly related to smoking is draining the budget of an incredible 1.2 trillion roubles ($40 billion) - 6.3% of the country's GDP. In addition, in October 2012 Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev released an Internet video stating that smoking claims approximately 400,000 lives each year in Russia and the hope is that the new law cuts this figure to around 150,000-200,000. President Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev are both non-smokers. However Mr Medvedev works alongside ministers in the cabinet who are known to be guilty of chain-smokers such as the Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.