Duma Ratifies UN Anti-Tobacco Treaty

APA teenager smoking Friday near the Kremlin. Deputies proposed banning cigarette sales in kiosks to fight the habit.
State Duma deputies floated radical plans on Friday to cut tobacco use after ratifying a United Nations anti-smoking convention.

Potential measures include dramatically increasing the cost of cigarettes and banning their sale in roadside kiosks, Nikolai Gerasimenko, deputy head of the Duma's Public Health Committee said Friday, Interfax reported.

The comments come as the Duma finally passed a law on accepting the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The treaty, which has now been ratified by 154 countries, requires participants to ban tobacco advertising within five years, increase the size of health warning labels on packages, protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke and possibly increase prices.

The UN initiative is aimed primarily at developing countries, where smoking is more prevalent, and Russia has lagged behind countries including Rwanda, Afghanistan and Samoa in accepting the convention.

The Duma has already taken steps toward bringing the country's laws into line with the convention requirements, including passing in a first reading a bill to place major restrictions on tobacco advertisements. Lawmakers will then try to shift the sale of cigarettes from kiosks to supermarkets, Gerasimenko said.

In recent years, the number of smokers in the country has skyrocketed. According to state statistics, 60 percent of men and 30 percent of women smoke regularly. Forty percent of people under 18 have used tobacco, he said.

Health experts point to high rates of smoking as the overwhelming cause of lung cancer in Russia and one of the primary reasons for the country's low life-expectancy level among men.

Russia is the world's third-largest producer of tobacco products and pumps out as many as 414 billion cigarettes each year, State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov said Thursday, Interfax reported. Unlike other leading producers, however, most of the Russian produce is consumed domestically, Gryzlov added.