Russian Communist lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban the sale of tobacco to women under the age of 40.

The bill introduced by State Duma lawmaker Ivan Nikitchuk cites the need to "protect mothers and children from the effects of tobacco use," according to its listing on the legislature's website.

The proposed expansion of Russia's recent ban on smoking in restaurants and other public facilities would prohibit cigarette sales to women under 40 and would ban smoking by women of any age within sight of minors.

The gender-based restrictions drew outrage from the head of the State Duma's Health Affairs Committee, Sergei Kalashnikov, who said the proposal was "doomed" and would never be passed, RIA Novosti reported.

Russia has one of the world's highest smoking rates. The government says 44 million Russians smoke. That's a third of the population, including more than 60 percent of all males. 

It's having a major effect on the country's health. Up to 400,000 Russians die each year from tobacco-related causes.