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Russia votes to ban public smoking

Russia's lower house of parliament has agreed to 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 point to the hundreds of thousands of Russians who die of smoking-related illnesses every year.

The bill was passed by a vote of 441-1. It must 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 Europe, with the price of a pack starting at about 65p.

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