Russians now face fines for smoking in public places, including near metro stations and airports, under new amendments to a broad anti-tobacco law that came into force Friday.
Smoking within 15 meters (50 feet) of entrances to the metro, train stations and airports, as well as near hospitals, schools and playgrounds, is now punishable by fines of 500 to 3,000 rubles ($15-$90) in Russia, where nearly half the adult population smokes.
(No Smoking =Не курить)
Though the ban on smoking in public places came into force on June 1, the offense was not fineable until November 15.
Fines on tobacco advertising and enticing minors to smoke also came into force Friday.
Encouraging under-18s to smoke will incur fines of 1,000-2,000 rubles ($30-$60), or up to 3,000 rubles ($90) if the smoking advocate is the minor’s parent or acquaintance.
Smoking propaganda – including advertising special deals like two packs of cigarettes for the price of one or distributing cigarettes for free – is punishable by fines of 2,000-4,000 rubles ($60-$120) for individuals, 5,000-25,000 rubles ($150-$765) for officials, and 80,000-600,000 rubles ($2,450-$18,360) for legal entities.
The final part of the anti-smoking law, which President Vladimir Putin signed in February, will take effect next year. Starting June 1, 2014, smoking in a number of other public places, including cafes and restaurants, will also be forbidden.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev targeted tobacco as a pet project last year, an initiative greeted positively, for the most part, in Russian society.
A 2013 survey by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center found that more than 75 percent of Russians support a ban on smoking in public.
Some 60 percent of men and nearly 22 percent of women in Russia are smokers, according to a 2010 study by the World Health Organization. Russian officials have estimated that the new anti-tobacco legislation will save 200,000 lives a year.
* Text by RIA Novosti at 15/11/2013