The Legality of Smoking Lounges in Offices Following the Passage of the Tobacco Control Law

September 25, 2013

In an attempt to address and potentially reduce Russia’s incredibly high smoking rate, Russian legislative authorities have enacted a new law that aims to effectively restrict tobacco smoking in certain areas. However, Federal Law No. 15-FZ (the “Tobacco Control Law”), which entered into force on June 1, 2013 (with certain exceptions) has already proven confusing as many struggle to understand the exact breadth of the restrictions it imposes.

While the Tobacco Control Law sets forth relatively clear prohibitions on smoking in public areas and premises utilized for public services, it leaves much room for interpretation with respect to the restrictions it places on smoking in business/administrative buildings. In particular, no smoking is permitted in “work places and work areas organized on the premises” (in Russian: на рабочих местах и в рабочих зонах, организованных в помещениях). This restriction is not new per se considering Federal Law No. 87-FZ dated July 10, 2001 (as amended) (the “Previous Law”) imposed a similar restriction on smoking in work places. However, in contrast to the Previous Law, the Tobacco Control Law makes no exceptions for premises specifically designated for smoking, such as smoking lounges. Thus, it is not entirely clear as to whether employers can maintain smoking lounges in business centers or other office buildings (i.e. in areas different from “work places” and “work areas”).

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