Russia smoking ban takes effect - Do not publish

MOSCOW (AP) - A law that bans smoking in public places has taken effect in Russia, a contentious move in a country with one of the highest smoking rates in the world.

The ban, which came into force Saturday, prohibits smoking in workplaces, schools, universities and on public transportation. More restrictions will be applied a year later.

Authors of the ban have pointed to the hundreds of thousands of Russians who die of smoking-related illnesses every year. The measure has been approved by both houses of parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin.

Cigarettes are much cheaper in Russia than in the U.S. and Europe, with the price of a pack starting at about $1. About 40 percent of Russians smoke.

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