Russia Further Strengthens Laws to Reduce Smoking

October 21, 2013

With new action to reduce smoking, Russia has firmly positioned itself as a global leader in the fight against tobacco use, which is the world’s number one cause of preventable death.

Last week, the Russian Duma passed its second major piece of tobacco control legislation this year, giving Russia some of the strongest laws to combat tobacco use.  The new law strengthens the comprehensive tobacco control law that President Putin signed in February and has been in force since June.

The latest move ushers in a total ban on tobacco advertising and sets fines for individuals and businesses that violate the country’s requirement for smoke-free indoor public places.  The smoke-free measure was included in a law enacted earlier this year that also banned tobacco sponsorships and display advertising and restricted where tobacco products can be sold.  Under the new law, the only evidence consumers will see of tobacco products in stores will be price lists – all cigarettes and other tobacco products cannot be publicly displayed.

Elements of the laws are already in place and more provisions will be rolled out over the next 6 months. 

Russia is the world’s second largest tobacco market and has one the highest rates of smoking. Tobacco kills nearly 400,000 Russians every year, contributing to the country’s “demographic crisis” of falling life expectancy and declining population.  The new policy will ensure that Russians enjoy smoke-free indoor air and are protected from the deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry.

Russia’s successes over the tobacco industry are stunning, but the job is far from finished.  Russia will need to ensure compliance with the law – no small job for a nation with 83 regions stretching from Europe to the Pacific Ocean.  The price of tobacco products in Russia also remains among the lowest in the world, keeping cigarettes cheap and plentiful for young smokers.  

Even with these challenges, Russia is poised to see major improvements in public health with the new law in place.