MOSCOW, February 11 (Itar-Tass) – The State Duma intends to debate the anti-tobacco law in the final reading on Tuesday, February 12.
The presidium of the ruling United Russia party’s faction in the Duma has decided to support the Health Committee’s recommendation to the lower house’s Council to debate the draft law in a third reading on February 12, one of the party leaders, Deputy Speaker Sergei Zheleznyak said on Monday, February 11.
“Since some of the provisions in the draft law will become effective from July 1, 2013, its effective application will require prompt amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences to introduce administrative penalties for smoking in public places where it is banned by law, as well as to the Law ‘On Advertising’ that banned any tobacco advertising in mass media and on the Internet,” Zheleznyak said.
He confirmed that fines for violations of the law would be determined on the basis of international practice.
“This work will start on Tuesday, February 12, immediately after the State Duma has passed the anti-tobacco law, within the Duma working group that will include representatives of the relevant committees, ministries and agencies, as well as civil society institutions,” he said.
The draft law bans smoking in public places, on urban and inter-urban transport, at workplaces and in working areas, and in common areas in dwelling houses.
It also raises tobacco excises and sets minimum selling prices for cigarettes.
The document calls for a substantial increase in tobacco excises. The government has already proposed raising excises by 45 percent in 2013, by 45 percent in 2014 and by 20 percent in 2015. This will nearly double excises by 2015,” he added.
Currently, tobacco excises are 7.8 roubles per pack and it will grow to 16 roubles by 2015, compared to about 100 roubles in Eastern Europe.
State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin said that 158 amendments to the draft law had been submitted to the State Duma. “The relevant committee suggest adopting 42 of them,” he said.
One of the key new provisions will require governmental and local authorities to ensure “accountability and transparency” in relations with tobacco companies. “The latter’s inquiries and replies to them will have to be posted on the body’s official website,” Vyacheslav Timchenko, first deputy head of the United Russia faction in the Duma, said.
He believes that this is an anti-corruption amendment.
The law will increase the volume of medical help aimed at discouraging people from smoking. “Physicians will be required to provide a patient with recommendations and information on medical aid he can receive,” Timchenko said.
He stressed that such medical aid will be provided for free. Information will also be provided through “hot lines” and the Internet.
The draft law also specifies measures to protect minors from smoking. It “bans not only the sale of tobacco products to them but also their involvement in the process of tobacco consumption by buying tobacco products for them or giving tobacco products to them, proposing or demanding that they use tobacco products in any manner,” the MP said.
“Naturally, all these bans should be reflected in the Code of Administrative Offences,” he added.
The draft law will also lift restrictions on the floor space of trade outlets allowed to sell tobacco products. “This will make it possible to avoid artificial shortages of tobacco, primarily in rural areas,” Timchenko said.
In his opinion, the recommended amendments do not change the essence of the anti-tobacco law. “At the same time, proposals that discriminate smokers or ‘soften’ the draft law were not supported,” he said.