MOSCOW The Russian government has backed proposed legislation that would ban smoking in public places, paving the way for the draft law to be debated in parliament.
The bill, which would also limit tobacco advertising and sponsorship, aims to help tackle a public health crisis in the world's No.2 market after China.
"The draft law foresees a total, complete ban on smoking in public places ... Gradually, by January 1, 2015, restaurants, cafes and other retail outlets must be free from smoking," Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told his cabinet meeting, according to a transcript on the government's website.
The number of sale points will be reduced and advertising limited, Medvedev said.
Foreign tobacco firms - including British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco, and Phillip Morris - control more than 90 percent of Russian sales and have been lobbying to soften the proposed legislation.
(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Dan Lalor)
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