Moscow: A restrictive anti-tobacco law that bans smoking in most public places has come into effect in Russia, where close to 400,000 people die yearly from tobacco-related illnesses.
Starting Saturday, no smoking will be allowed in the workplace, on public transport or at bus stops, in airports, train or bus stations, medical or educational centers, public institutions, elevators, cultural centres or even on stairways of apartment buildings.
"A large number of measures included in the law and taking effect June 1 will help defend citizens against tobacco smoke and reduce this non-infectious pathology," Russian Health Ministry spokesman Oleg Salagai told the Interfax news agency.
The law establishes that one year from now, on July 1, 2014, smoking will also be barred from restaurants, cafes, hotels, stores, shopping malls, airplanes, trains, and ships that travel long distances.
At the same time, tobacco sales will only be permitted in stores and will be banned in kiosks and hotels starting next year.
The regulation also prohibits all tobacco advertising, including on the Internet, and limits the possibilities of sponsorship by tobacco companies.
The law also fixes minimum legal prices while raising taxes on tobacco, a very important measure in a country where a pack of cigarettes of a leading US brand costs around a dollar.