Following rising number of reports that a large section of the population drinks and smokes, increasing the risk of various diseases, Russia has introduced a number of bills that crack down on the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes, which it hopes will help improve the life expectancy of its population.
Russia has passed a bill to forbid smoking in public places and designated beer as an alcoholic beverage instead of a food, as well as prohibited its sale in street kiosks, the Washington Post reports.
However, health activists have said that the Russian government needed to do a lot more than these measures in order to help Russians lead longer lives.
According to Dmitri Yanin, chairman of the Conference of Consumer Protection Societies, consumer behaviour can be changed eventually but it will take time because the law does not include any economic measures, like increasing the prices of cigarettes and alcohol.
Experts said that more far-reaching measures will also be necessary to turn the tide against non-communicable ailments such as lung cancer, stroke and cardiovascular disease, which exploded as the health-care system fell apart with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
According to President Vladimir Putin, about 400,000 Russians die from tobacco-related diseases every year, and almost 300,000 die from causes linked to alcohol, though its effect on mortality is more debated.