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Russian government moves to ban tobacco advertizing-2

(Adds reaction from an official and lawyer in paras 4-8)

MOSCOW, January 10 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government has decided to completely ban tobacco advertizing, by signing up to a World Health Organization anti-smoking convention.

In its first session of the year, the government approved a draft law on joining the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which stipulates a ban on advertizing tobacco products.

The FCTC requires parties "in accordance with their respective constitution and constitutional principles, to undertake a comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship within five years of the WHO FCTC's entry into force for that Party."

Vladimir Lukin, Russia's human rights ombudsman, said he supports the idea of prohibiting tobacco advertising, but at the same time he believes that those, who already smoke should not be completely prohibited from smoking.

"I believe that the tobacco advertising should be prohibited since it an advertising of a product, which is harmful to human life," Lukin said adding that smokers could consider a ban on smoking in public places an infringement of their human rights.

He said that the rights of the both parties in the issue should be taken into account and a compromise must be worked out.

Boris Barshchevsky, a lawyer representing the government's interests in the higher courts, believes a ban on tobacco advertising in Russia is a good idea, although he himself is a smoker.

"I am a smoker myself and I know how bad it is and that is why I believe that the idea of advertising tobacco to attract more people to the habit is not very good," he said.

The WHO estimates that 4.9 million people die annually as a result of tobacco-related diseases.

Under the FCTC, countries are also encouraged to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products, ban tobacco sales to and by minors, and promote agricultural diversification and alternative livelihoods for tobacco producers.

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