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Health

Putin signs law to ban smoking in public

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a ban on smoking in public places. The legislation is aimed at halving the number of smokers and reducing the number of deaths caused by tobacco.

The Kremlin on Monday announced that President Vladimir Putin had signed into effect a ban on smoking in most public places.

The ban prohibits smoking in bars, hotels, restaurants and train stations. Restrictions will even apply outside buildings, within a radius of 15 meters of metro and train stations, as well as on beaches.

Those caught flouting the rules are liable to pay a fine of up to 5,000 rubles ($166, 125 euros) while businesses would have to pay 150,000 rubles.

The new rules are set to come into effect in some public places, such as on the country's metro system and in schools, on June 1. They will apply in restaurants and cafes later in the year.

Smoking has been identified as a priority public health issue by the Kremlin, with more than 40 percent of the adult population being smokers.

"Specialists believe that the law will greatly improve the situation and within the next 10-15 years will cut in half the amount of smoking in Russia," the Interfax news agency reported a health ministry official as saying.

The ministry says it hopes the law will cut the number of annual smoking deaths in Russia from 400,000 to 150,000-200,000.

A ban on the sale of tobacco products at street kiosks is included in the legislation, as well as restrictions on advertising and a minimum price for cigarettes. While Western brands currently cost about 50 rubles (1.25 euros, $1.65) for a pack, domestically produced cigarettes can be bought a fraction of that amount.

rc/rg (AFP, Reuters)