Russia may introduce minimum cigarette pricing in 2015-paper

MOSCOW Wed May 28, 2014 1:45am EDT

MOSCOW May 28 (Reuters) - Russia may introduce minimum cigarette pricing as early as next year to curb smoking in a further restriction on the $20 billion market, business daily Vedomosti reported on Wednesday.

Russia started tightening regulations of the tobacco market last year, restricting cigarette sales and banning advertising and sponsorship of events by tobacco companies. A ban on smoking in public places will be broadened to include restaurants and cafes from June 1.

Vedomosti reported that a new draft law proposed setting the minimum price at 55 roubles ($1.60) per pack from 2015, which would be adjusted each year to take into account changes in the excise tax and inflation. Currently the cheapest pack of cigarettes in Russia sells at 39 roubles.

Russia's $20 billion a year cigarette market is about 90 percent controlled by foreign firms such as BAT, Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco and Philip Morris . ($1 = 34.4050 Russian Roubles) (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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