Russia Plans Stronger Smoking Restrictions

Tobacco ads would be banned and smoking prohibited in hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, long-distance trains, and cruise ships if a bill prepared by the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development is adopted.

Russian news media reported Aug. 16 that the country's Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development plans to submit legislation to the Duma that would impose tougher restrictions on smoking in public places starting in 2013. Tobacco ads would be banned and smoking prohibited in hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, long-distance trains, and cruise ships if the bill is adopted as prepared by the ministry, RIA Novosti and theItar-Tass news service reported.

RIA Novosti economics commentator Maria Selivanova concluded that inside their own homes and on the street are the only places it will be legal for Russians to smoke once the final restrictions are in place.

The bill would conform Russia's laws so they meet the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. WHO reported July 7 that more than 1 billion people in 19 countries are now covered by laws requiring large, graphic health warnings on packages of tobacco, which is nearly twice the number two years ago. The agency released its third periodic report on the global tobacco "epidemic" on that date; it noted that Mexico, Peru, and the United States had become the latest countries to require the graphic warnings.

"We are pleased that more and more people are being adequately warned about the dangers of tobacco use," WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health Dr. Ala Alwan said July 7. "At the same time, we can't be satisfied that the majority of countries are doing nothing or not enough. We urge all countries to follow the best-practices for reducing tobacco consumption and to become parties to, and fully implement, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control."

Besides the graphic health warnings, WHO recommends monitoring tobacco use; protecting people from tobacco smoke; helping users quit; enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorships; and raising taxes on tobacco. The agency estimates nearly 6 million people will die this year from causes related to smoking.

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