Share This Page

Putin signs anti-tobacco law restricting smoking, sales

| Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, 9:06 p.m.

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a package of anti-tobacco measures aimed at curbing demand in the world's second-largest cigarette market, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Effective June 1, the law bans smoking in public areas including workplaces, stairwells of apartment buildings and near schools and hospitals. It sets minimum prices for cigarettes and allows for higher excise taxes.

The ban on public smoking will be extended to restaurants, hotels and train stations starting on June 1, 2014, and sales will be banned in street kiosks not big enough for clients to enter.

Putin, who returned to the Kremlin last year for a third term as president, is limiting sales and advertising of alcohol and tobacco in the biggest public health initiative since Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's failed campaign in the late 1980s.

Smoking and drinking kill about 900,000 people a year in Russia, according to official estimates.

“There are some concerns that the tobacco lobby will be able to win concessions to make the process less transparent and more drawn out,” said Julia Tsepliaeva, head of research at BNP Paribas in Moscow. “On excise taxes, in particular, they'll look to reach an agreement.”

Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco Group control 93 percent of the $19.5 billion Russian market. China is the world's biggest tobacco consumer.

Tobacco companies have won some compromises. The government originally proposed outlawing all tobacco advertising and sponsorship as well as kiosk sales immediately, with bans on trade in small retail outlets and smoking in public places taking effect Jan. 1, 2015.

The compromise was reached after a “multimillion-dollar campaign” by the tobacco lobby, Dmitry Nosov, an Olympic judo bronze medalist who serves as a deputy in the State Duma, said in an interview last month.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.