Russian President Vladimir Putin enacted Monday a restrictive anti-tobacco law that authorities predict will reduce the percentage of smokers in the country from 39 percent to 25 percent.
Starting June 1 of this year, the law will ban smoking in educational institutions, health-care centers, government buildings, workplaces and on public transport.
The law also says that from June 1, 2014, there will be no more smoking in restaurants, cafeterias, hotels, stores, shopping malls, airplanes, trains, or ships that sail for long distances.
Tobacco companies will be prohibited from sponsoring lotteries and festivals, while all tobacco advertising will be completely outlawed, including on the Internet.
That such a measure has been passed in a country that is among the biggest consumers of tobacco in the world has polarized the population.
According to a survey taken by public opinion pollster VTSIOM, 49 percent of Russians oppose the law as "too tough," while 45 percent said they were in favor of it.
"According to our estimates, carrying out all the measures included in the law will prevent between 150,000 and 200,000 smoking-related deaths per year," Health Ministry spokesman Oleg Salagai said, according to the Interfax news agency.
Meanwhile another ministry official predicted that over the next 10-15 years the number of smokers in Russia will decrease by half.
The head of the Epidemiological Service, Gennadi Onischenko, said that 400,000 Russians die annually from nicotine-related illnesses. EFE