In a shot at Russian President Vladimir Putin, the United States will not send a delegation to Moscow this month to participate in global health talks that hold major implications for the tobacco and burgeoning e-cigarette industries.

Hosting the World Health Organization summit is a point of pride for Russia, and it is widely rumored that Putin will launch the event with a speech during the opening session of the meetings.

The decision to sit out the weeklong Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) meetings is based on U.S. displeasure over Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine in recent months, said Bill Hall, director of the news division at the Department of Health and Human Services…

“There definitely is some concern,” said Chris Bostic, deputy director of policy for Action on Smoking and Health, a group that advocates for global tobacco controls. “It is a shame that they will not be there in person.”

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