MOSCOW, September 3 - RAPSI. The State Duma may pass an anti-tobacco bill this spring, Deputy Health Minister Sergei Velmyaikin said on Monday at a press conference in Moscow.

"We will go through all the necessary procedures," he said.

The Health Ministry submitted to the government on Friday a draft law aimed at protecting the population against the negative effects of smoking. The bill, which stipulates a ban on the open sale of cigarettes and smoking in public places was submitted to the State Duma for consideration in May.

The draft law proposes a ban on smoking in public places, such as common premises in residential buildings, long distance trains, railway station entrances, markets and restaurants.

Additionally, street stalls will be prohibited from selling cigarettes and tobacco products.

Only shops with an area greater than 50 square meters will be allowed to sell them, but they will not be able to display them openly.

Furthermore, minimum retail prices are expected to be set for all tobacco products. Selling cigarettes and tobacco products to individuals under 18 will also be prohibited.

The draft law proposes banning cigarette advertising as well, which will require advertising law to be amended. In addition, graphic images of the effects of smoking will appear on cigarette packs in a year. The bill was finalized as per the government's instructions and agreed upon by all the departments concerned.

Earlier, Velmyaikin told journalists that the government will consider an anti-smoking draft law on October 18 and submit the legislation to the State Duma on November 1.
"It has been agreed upon by the various ministries and will be heard during the October 18 cabinet meeting," he said. "As per the presidential order, it should be submitted to the State Duma on November 1."

The draft law was put together by the Healthcare and Development Ministry and aims to meet the World Health Organization's recommendations. According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, Russia is the number-one tobacco consumer in the world. Some 43.9 million Russians smoke, or 39.1 percent of the population.
The Health Ministry says the restrictions will be imposed gradually.