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Russian Lawmakers Back Anti-Smoking Bill in Final Reading

Russian lawmakers approved anti-tobacco legislation that bans smoking near and in hospitals and schools and in public transportation and offices as of June 1.

The law requires the signature of President Vladimir Putin, who has waged a public health drive in Russia. The legislation, which also outlaws tobacco advertising and restricts sales and sponsorship, will extend to prohibit smoking in hotels and restaurants next year.

Philip Morris International Inc., British American Tobacco Plc, Japan Tobacco Inc. and Imperial Tobacco Group Plc, which control 93 percent of the $19.5 billion Russian market, had opposed the curbs on cigarette consumption, which were backed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Lawmakers in Moscow approved the bill by a 441-1 margin.

“That’s a social revolution,” Just Russia lawmaker Fedot Tumusov said before the vote.

The legislation, which was watered down during the second reading in January, is a compromise after a “multi-million-dollar campaign” by the tobacco lobby, according to Dmitry Nosov, another lawmaker.

Some 39 percent of Russians are regular smokers, according to the World Health Organization. About 400,000 Russians, or 0.3 percent of the population, die each year from smoking-related diseases, Medvedev said in October.

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