At the State Duma plenary session, MPs examined and rejected five bills proposing to amend the main smoke-free law of the country. Reports on all issues were addressed by a MP from Altai Territory, academician of the RAS (Russian Academy of Sciences) Nikolai Gerasimenko.
According to him, five bills submitted to the Duma were aimed at expanding the list of public places where smoking is prohibited, and vice versa, to soften existing restrictions for smokers. For example, the proposed amendments concerned:
• prohibition of smoking within or less than 15 meters away from the entrances of educational, medical, cultural and sport related organisations, as well as from beaches and playgrounds;
• prohibition of tobacco sales to persons under 21 (including prohibition of consumption by persons under 21 and their involvement in the tobacco consumption process), and establishment of administrative responsibility for the violation of this prohibition;
• prohibition of smoking in public premises of communal apartments and permission of smoking near exits from the premises of the transit zone of international airports in designated places;
• permission of smoking in places in the open air within or less than 15 meters away from the entrances of railway stations and airports; permission of smoking in specially designated premises that are equipped with ventilation systems inside railway stations and airports;
• clarify the concept of “pavilion”, having prescribed in its characteristics the absence of a construction structure between the seller’s workplace and the buyer.
As Nikolai Gerasimenko said, all these proposals were discussed at the meeting of the State Duma Health Committee. According to the analysis of the MPs, the provisions expanding the list of public places banned for smoking are excessive, since the subjects of the Russian Federation are empowered to establish additional restrictions on tobacco smoking in certain public places and premises.
The proposal to allow smoking in specially equipped rooms of railway stations and airports was determined that it goes against the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which Russia is obliged to comply with. In particular, the guiding principles of the Convention have established that only a complete ban on smoking in public places can protect people from exposure to tobacco smoke, while ventilation, air filtration and the allocation of special smoking areas are ineffective.
The amendment to authorize the sale of tobacco products to young people since the age of 21 was also rejected, because it contradicts the Constitution of the Russian Federation, according to which “a citizen of the Russian Federation may exercise his or her rights and duties in full from the age of 18″.
In addition, all five bills received negative feedback from the Government of the Russian Federation. “Thus, by a majority of votes all proposed amendments were rejected. As for today, the main achievement is that the tobacco lobby failed to weaken the effect of the anti-tobacco law,” summed up the previous plenary session of the Duma Nikolai Gerasimenko.