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Russia is cracking down hard on tobacco, which even casual observers know is a huge public health problem for the Great Bear.

The Ministry of Health, which had drafted the law and was the main force behind it, said they expect the new rules to cut the number of deaths related to smoking in the country by half in the next 10 to 15 years. About 40% of Russians smoke—a total of 44 million people—with 400,000 people dying from related illnesses each year.

"The implementation of the measures contained in the bill will reduce mortality from diseases associated with tobacco use by 150,000 to 200,000 people a year," the ministry's deputy director, Oleg Salagai, told Interfax.

The law bans smoking in most public places, including government buildings, schools, hospitals, restaurants, train stations and near metro stops, from June 1. Also, cigarette advertising will be completely banned, shop owners will be barred from displaying tobacco products in store windows and graphic warning labels will be printed on packs of cigarettes.