Most Russians don't support ban on public smoking

Moscow, Jan 18 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Most Russians do not support the government's move to impose a complete ban on smoking in public places and believe the emphasis should be on helping smokers quit, a pollster said.

The State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, is to consider the anti-smoking bill in its second reading Jan 25.

According to a survey conducted by the Levada Center in November, only between 18 and 31 percent of respondents supported an outright smoking ban in workplaces, airports, restaurants, bars and hotels.

Up to 75 percent believe public smoking should be restricted to specially designated areas.

About 55 percent of respondents said the government should focus more on informing smokers about ways of quitting, providing help and advice.

Only 20 percent said higher prices, taxes and fines were effective anti-smoking measures.

An estimated 40 percent of Russian adults are smokers, and tobacco, together with excessive alcohol consumption, is one of the main avoidable causes of premature death and health problems in the country.

The Duma passed the anti-smoking bill in a first reading last month.

Russian lawmakers have proposed further restrictions to the anti-smoking bill, in particular banning so-called smoking rooms at work places and showing cigarettes on television and in films.

The bill envisages a gradual ban on smoking in public - from government buildings, educational and cultural sites to sports stadiums and transport systems.

Smoking is also to be prohibited in bars, cafes and other public spaces, including playgrounds and train stations.

The bill would also ban cigarette sales in counters, the display of tobacco products, and images of smoking in any form of media for children, as well as raising tobacco duties and introduce a minimum price for cigarettes.

Russia signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control with the World Health Organisation in 2008. This obliges Russia to enact tougher restrictions by 2015.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

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