Moscow: Russia is due to ban smoking in all enclosed spaces in an effort to stamp out the habit that kills up to 500,000 people every year, the health ministry said.

“All disagreements between ministries over the ban have been resolved,” a ministry spokesperson said.

The bill is still subject to approval by the parliament.

The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomed the bill, describing it as a “breakthrough” for Russia.

But Russia’s Consumers Union criticised the bill, saying curbs do little to discourage tobacco consumption, state-run daily Rossiskaya Gazeta reported.

More adults smoked in Russia than in any other heavy-smoking country in the world, the WHO concluded in a report released last year.

It said nearly 40 percent of the country’s 143-million-strong population were smokers.

Smoking-related diseases kill as many as 350,000 to a half million of Russians every year, according to Russian officials.

In 2010, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin approved a government anti-smoking programme which aims to cut the number of adult smokers by a quarter by 2015.

Source: IANS/RIA Novosti