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Updated: July 18, 2011

Russian Federation

Prevalence of Tobacco Use
Cost of Tobacco Use
Tobacco-Related Health Information
Tobacco Use in the Workplace
Tobacco Cessation Treatment Options


Smoking is a significant problem in the Russian Federation.
  • One million people in Russia die each year from alcohol- and tobacco-related illnesses.1
  • The ratio of smokers to non-smokers is twice as high as Western Europe.2
  • Life expectancy of Russian men dropped from 64 in 1989 to 59 in 2008 due in part to tobacco-related illnesses.3

Smoking is a significant expense for Russians. Families spend an average of 15% of the total household budget on cigarettes.4 Smokers spend the equivalent of U.S.$6 billion on tobacco products a year.5

Tobacco control efforts in the Russian Federation are relatively new. In 2008, the country ratified the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.6 In doing so, the government agreed to the following steps within five years:7

  • Implement a national tobacco advertising ban.
  • Require health warnings to occupy at least 30% of tobacco packaging.
  • Enact smoke-free air laws that apply to all workplaces and public places.
  • Raise the price of tobacco products by significantly increasing tobacco taxes.
  • Fund and implement effective tobacco prevention and cessation programs to both prevent children from starting to smoke and help existing smokers quit.

Although the Russian Federation has made some steps in tobacco control - banning the sale of tobacco to minors; prohibiting the use of tobacco vending machines; outlawing the sale of individual cigarettes; and eliminating smoking in public transportation - there is limited enforcement of its smoking-related regulations.8 The result is a society in which smoking is socially acceptable and pervasive.

Prevalence of Tobacco Use

The Russian Federation has more smokers per capita than any country in the world.9 In 2008, 39% of Russians were current smokers.10 Estimates were that 50 million Russians between the ages of 18 to 65 smoked.5 Since the fall of the Soviet Union, smoking rates have increased drastically. Between 1996 and 2000 alone, annual cigarette consumption nearly doubled.8

Smoking is common among Russian men of all ages. Approximately 60% of all adult men over age 18 smoke.10 The smoking rate among Russian men grew from 57% in 1992 to 63% in 2003.11

Although historically Russian women have had lower smoking rates, numbers have more than doubled since the collapse of the Soviet Union.11 Approximately 7% of women smoked in 1992; 15% of women reported smoking in 2003.11 This number may reflect a gross underreporting of female smoking rates, as the activity is not socially acceptable.

Number of Cigarettes Smoked Daily, 2001
  1-2 Up to 10 10-20 >20
Men 2.4 24.6 52.2 20.8
Women 18.7 56.6 19.8 4.9
Gilmore A, Pomerleau J, McKee M, et al. Prevalence of smoking in 8 countries of the former Soviet Union: results from the living conditions, lifestyles and health study. Am J Public Health. December 2004;94(12):2177-2187.

In the Russian Federation, addiction to nicotine begins at a young age.4 More than half of teenagers smoke - approximately 60% of males and 40% of females.9 One-third of Russian youth have reported trying a cigarette by the age of 10.4 Approximately 27.4% of 15-year-old males and 18.5% of 15-year-old females are current smokers of at least 6 cigarettes per day, at least 17 days per month.4

Cost of Tobacco Use

Smoking is relatively inexpensive in the Russian Federation. The cost of a pack of imported and domestic cigarettes is approximately U.S.$1 and U.S.$0.62, respectively.4 Cigarettes are taxed at 33% of their retail price.12 Despite this, cigarettes are actually becoming more affordable with time due to inflation and increased consumer purchasing power.12The Ministry of Finance announced that cigarette taxes would rise 60% by the year 2015. 13

There are financial repercussions to being a smoker in the Russian Federation. Smokers earn significantly less than non-smokers.5 When controlling for age, level of education, health status and household composition, the smoking wage differential amounts to:

  • 10.9% for males.5
  • 3.8% for females.5
The Russian economy also suffers due to widespread tobacco use. Premature death due to smoking results in productivity losses totaling U.S.$24.7 billion.14

Tobacco-Related Health Information

According to the World Health Organization, tobacco and alcohol use are the leading risk factors for premature deaths in the Russian Federation.4 Each year, up to 400,000 Russians die of smoking-related illnesses.14 Smoking-related illnesses are the third leading cause of death and account for 17% of annual health care expenditures.14 Male smokers in Russia have 60% higher odds of dying than nonsmokers.15

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation has struggled health-wise. Male life expectancy at birth fell 6.6 years between 1989 and 1994.15 Female life expectancy at birth fell by 3.3 years over the same period.15 Over a similar timeframe (1985 to 1995), smoking-attributable deaths among men aged 35 to 69 increased by over 12%.15

Smoking contributes significantly to the Russian Federation's mortality profile. In 2000, the proportion of total deaths by all smoking-related causes was 26% among males, 3% among females and 15% in the total population.4 In 2000, the proportion of:

  • lung cancer deaths attributed to smoking was 94% among males and 40% among females 4
  • cardiovascular disease due to smoking was 27% among males and 2.3% among females 4
The average number of years of life lost as a direct result of smoking is 19 among males and 16 among females. 4

Tobacco Use in the Workplace

The Russian Federation is the third-largest producer of tobacco products in the world.9 The country's tobacco production has more than doubled in the past decade, from 206 billion in 1996 to 413 billion in 2006.9 Russian-manufactured cigarettes have 30% to 40% more tar and nicotine than other world brands, which contributes to higher mortality rates.9

Despite significant internal production of nicotine products, the Russian Federation is also a major importer of cigarettes. Over half of the cigarettes sold in Russia are produced by transnational companies.4 Estimates are that 20% of cigarettes on the market are sold illegally.

In an effort to curb smoking, the Russian government has banned smoking in 16:

  • Private worksites
  • Educational facilities
  • Health care facilities
  • Government buildings
  • Public transportation
Employers are allowed to set up designated smoking areas.

Those in violation of regulations will be fined. Penalties range from the equivalent of U.S.$100 to U.S.$200 for individuals and U.S.$3,200 to U.S.$4,000 for organizations.8

Tobacco Cessation Treatment Options

In the Russian Federation, few tobacco cessation resources exist.4 Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is available over the counter, but the government will not pay for it or subsidize its use.4


WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2009

Smoke Free Guide in Russian. Tobacco cessation checklist created by the U.K.'s NHS and provided by the Russian Ministry of Health. (English version available at:

Russian Ministry of Health and Social Development: World No Tobacco Day 2011


1 Ardayeva A. New reports find alcohol and tobacco deaths in Russia too high. August 24, 2009.

2 Russia joins global anti-smoking convention. Russian News and Information Agency (Novosti), 2008.

3 Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Tobacco taxes in Russia. Accessed May 19, 2011.

4 Sussman S, Gufranova U, Demin A. Speculation about options for teen tobacco use cessation in the Russian Federation. Tobacco Induced Diseases .2007;3(3):1-15.

5 Lokshin M, Sajaia Z. The economic cost of smoking in Russia. The World Bank.

6 Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Toll of tobacco around the world: Russian Federation. Accessed May 19, 2011.

7 World Health Organization. WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, 2003. Accessed May 19, 2011.

8 World Health Organization. WHO Report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2008 - The MPOWER package. Geneva, Switzerland 2008.

9 State Duma adopts broad smoking ban on first reading. Russian News and Information Agency (NOVOSTI), 2007.

10Global Adult Tobacco Survey. Russian Federation 2009 Country Report. Click here. Accessed May 19, 2011

11Danishevski K, Gilmore A, McKee M. Public attitudes towards smoking and tobacco control policy in Russia. Tob Control. August 1, 2008;17(4):276-283.

12Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids. Tobacco taxes in Russia. Accessed May 19, 2011.

13 Tobacco Campaign. Cigarettes become more expensive by 26%. Accessed May 19, 2011.

14 Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Russia: tobacco burden facts. Published February 2011. Accessed May 19, 2011.

1515 Brainerd E, Cutler D. Autopsy on an empire: understanding mortality in Russia and the former Soviet Union. Journal of Economic Perspectives. 2005;19(1):107-130.

16Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Russian Federation: tobacco policy status. Published February 2011. Accessed May 19, 2011.

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