MOSCOW (February 12, 2013)--Russia's lower house of parliament overwhelmingly passed a bill Tuesday that would ban smoking in public places, a contentious measure in a country with one of the highest smoking rates in the world.
The ban has the backing of government leaders, who cite the hundreds of thousands of Russians who die of smoking-related illnesses every year.
The bill passed Tuesday by a vote of 441-1 must still be approved by the upper house and signed by President Vladimir Putin before becoming law.
The ban on smoking in cafes, restaurants, universities and other public places would go into effect on June 1.
Cigarettes are much cheaper in Russia than in the U.S. and Europe, with the price of a pack starting at about $1.