CORRECTED-Russian senator submits bill to raise smoking age to 21

Dec 7 Russia is considering a bill to raise the legal smoking age to 21 from 18 as part of an ongoing drive to improve public health in a nation of heavy smokers.

Senator Anton Belyakov said on Monday he had submitted a bill to ban people younger than 21 using or buying tobacco products.

Russia has already moved to tighten its regulation of the tobacco industry, hiking taxes and introducing restrictions on advertising and smoking in public places in an effort to promote a healthier lifestyle.

“Russia is ranked fourth in the world by the number of smokers … Since 2009, the number of smokers in the country has only decreased by 3 percent while in Europe anti-tobacco measures have led to … a more than 20 percent decline,” Belyakov said on his Facebook page.

Russia has previously tightened tobacco market regulation with tax increases, restrictions on advertising and a ban on smoking in public places as part of a wider drive to promote healthier lifestyle and improve public health.

Japan Tobacco Inc, Philip Morris International , British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco together control 90 percent of the $16 billion Russian cigarette market, based on 2014 results, Euromonitor data showed.

Japan Tobacco said in July it would close its Moscow factory by mid-2016 due to a “serious contraction” in Russia’s tobacco market because of significant declines in tobacco demand. ($1 = 68.8450 roubles) (Reporting and writing by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Lidia Kelly and Tom Heneghan)

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