February 20, 2013
MOSCOW (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) -- The Russian parliament approved a strict public smoking ban on Wednesday, part of the Kremlin's drive to stub out cigarette use.
The ban on lighting up in public places -- including bars, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, stadiums and train stations -- will go into effect June 1, although some businesses may be granted a year-long waiver in order to smooth the transition.
The bill was approved by the upper house of the Duma following passage last week in the lower chamber, the Interfax news agency reported. President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign the legislation.
Depictions of smoking on film and in theatre productions is banned under the legislation, unless it is deemed "an integral part of the artistic act."
Shop windows must also be cleared of tobacco displays, while billboards advertising cigarettes have to be taken down.
Individual violators face fines of up to 5,000 rubles (166 dollars) and businesses 150,000 rubles.
A tax increase on cigarettes is also anticipated, along with a rise in the minimum price for a pack, which can currently be purchased starting at around 1 euro.
Russia has one of the highest smoking rates in the world, with an estimated 44 million nicotine addicts, or about one-third of the population, according to the Russian Health Ministry.
Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH