About 100,000 signatures have been collected on a petition calling for Russian lawmakers to backpedal on the country’s smoking ban, according to a RT TV/TV Novosti report.
An anti-tobacco law was approved in February 2013 and came into effect on June 1 last year.
However, restrictions are being introduced gradually, so that, since last summer, smoking has been outlawed in certain public places, including educational, health-care and sports facilities, airports, railway stations and bus stops.
The strictest part of the law comes into force on June 1, when smoking cigarettes will be banned in hotels, cafés, restaurants, marketplaces and on passenger trains and ships.
The Association of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Russia that unites more than 3,000 food and beverage establishments is demanding that the ban on smoking in restaurants, cafés and bars be postponed, amended or dropped.
The association and the all-Russia movement “For the rights of smokers” have drafted a list of amendments as well as launching the petition.
“In our country, for the majority of the year, the temperatures stand at below zero; making the guests go outside to smoke in the cold is just inhuman,” the association’s lawyer, Maria Orlova, was quoted as having told the Izvestia newspaper.
But Elena Mazur, the corporate communication director of the Rosinter Restaurants network, believes that customers won’t stay away for too long.
“We haven’t increased the number of places on the summer terraces, and haven’t resorted to any special measures,” she said.
Mazur said she believed that customers would have got used to the smoking ban by September and would return to restaurants.