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Russia to ban smoking at many sites

MOSCOW — Russia’s lower house of Parliament passed a bill Tuesday prohibiting smoking in public places, an extraordinary measure in a country where about 60 percent of adult men smoke cigarettes.

The bill was proposed by the Ministry of Health and endorsed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in an effort to limit the harm caused by smoking. The measure is expected to be approved by the upper house of Parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin within two weeks.

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The lower house — the state Duma — gave the bill overwhelming approval, passing it by a vote of 441 to 1. One controversial element, which prohibited special smoking rooms, was modified and the new law permits them in company offices.

‘‘The good thing is that in the next year we will receive a smoke-free environment in restaurants, hospitals, and public buildings,’’ said Dmitri Yanin, chairman of the Conference of Consumer Protection Societies. ‘‘It’s a big success.’’

Beginning June 1, smoking will be prohibited at schools and universities, hospitals and clinics, sports arenas, playgrounds, government buildings, apartment building stairwells, and on most public transportation.

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