MOSCOW, August 15 (Itar-Tass) - The Russian Health Ministry will submit a draft law to the government in September, which will impose fines for smoking and raise excise taxes on tobacco.
The ministry proposed raising excise taxes on cigarettes in 2014 by 44 percent from the current level and doubling them in 2015. Excise taxes for cigarettes will go up in 2014 to 1,200 roubles per 1,000 sticks plus 10 percent of the estimated value based on the maximum retail price but no less than 1,500 roubles per 1,000 sticks and to 2,050 roubles per 1,000 sticks plus 10 percent of the estimated value based on the maximum retail price but no less than 2,590 roubles per 1,000 sticks in 2015.
The current rate set for 2014 are 800 roubles per 1,000 sticks plus 8.5 percent of the estimated value based on the maximum retail price but no less than 1,040 roubles per 1,000 sticks and the rate for 2015 is 960 roubles per 1,000 sticks plus 9 percent of the estimated value based on the maximum retail price but no less than 1,250 roubles per 1,000 sticks.
The draft law also suggested imposing fines for violating the “anti-tobacco” law adopted in early 2013. There are no fines now even though MPs proposed relevant amendments to the Tax Code in the first half of this year but they were never adopted.
Fines for smoking in public places in Russia will amount to 1,000-1,500 roubles, according to the proposed amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences.
The amendments were initiated by Sergei Zheleznyak of United Russia and the heads of the Duma’s relevant committees.
Since some of the provisions in the draft law became 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.
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.
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, adding 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 against smokers or ‘soften’ the draft law were not supported,” he said.