Putin tells ministers to stop smoking in example to Russians

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin tackled tobacco addiction Tuesday as he urged ministers to give up cigarettes and set an example in a country where almost one in three people smoke.

At a government meeting, Health Minister Tatiana Golikova said 43.9 million people in Russia were smokers out of a total population of around 142 million, in images broadcast on national television.

"It is far too much," Putin said in response, turning to his ministers and asking who smoked. He urged these ministers to "stop smoking and act as an example in the fight against tobacco addiction."

The recently published government action plan on the subject said Russia aimed to reduce by a quarter the number of smokers in the country by banning smoking in public places by 2015.

© 2010 AFP

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