MOSCOW - Russia's lower house of parliament Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a bill prohibiting smoking in public places, an extraordinary measure in a country where about 60 percent of adult men smoke.
The bill was proposed by the Ministry of Health and endorsed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in an effort to limit the harm caused by smoking. The measure is expected to be easily approved by the upper house of parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin within two weeks. The lower house, the Duma, passed the bill in a 441-1 vote.
Beginning June 1, the bill prohibits smoking at schools and universities, hospitals and clinics, sports arenas, playgrounds, government buildings, apartment building stairwells -- a popular venue -- as well as on most public transportation. As of June 2014, the ban would be extended to long-distance trains, hotels and shopping centers.
The All-Russia Movement for the Rights of Smokers lobbied hard for the establishment of smoking rooms in businesses, and the bill was modified to permit such rooms. "Too many bans means the law would not be enforced," said Andrei Loskutov of the group.
In promoting the law, Medvedev said smoking kills about 400,000 Russians every year and endangers the health of the young by setting a bad example and exposing them to secondhand smoke.