Big Changes in Russia as Nation… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Big Changes in Russia as Nation Fully Implements Tobacco Control Law

June 02, 2014

Russia on June 1 finished implementing its comprehensive tobacco control law, extending a prohibition on smoking in public places to hospitality venues, including restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels. Newly-implemented provisions also ban point-of-sale displays of cigarettes and other tobacco products and end tobacco sales at kiosks that are common through the country.

These are historic actions to reduce tobacco’s devastating toll and save lives in Russia, a country that has one of the highest smoking rates in the world and where tobacco kills nearly 400,000 people every year. Russia is the world’s second largest cigarette market.

The June 1 actions complete implementation of a comprehensive tobacco control law enacted in February 2013. The law requires 100 percent smoke-free public places, bans all tobacco advertising, promotions and sponsorships, prohibits point-of-sale tobacco displays and limits where tobacco products can be sold.

Previously implemented provisions of the law are already working to reduce smoking. Russian officials have reported that cigarette consumption fell by 12 percent – 16 billion cigarettes – in the first quarter of 2014 compared to a year ago, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Tobacco companies have also reported steep declines in sales in Russia. Philip Morris International says its sales fell by nearly 9 percent in the first quarter of 2014, while Imperial Tobacco also attributed falling sales to tougher regulation in Russia.

High-level Russian officials have pledged support for the law. “Cigarettes are too available. The less available this evil, the better,” said one top health official, according to the Interfax News Agency.

Tobacco is one of the main drivers of Russia’s “demographic crisis” of falling life expectancy and declining population. While the new law has made Russia a leader in tobacco control, challenges still remain, including implementing the new law in a country that stretches from Europe to the Pacific Ocean. Tobacco taxes in Russia are also among the lowest in the world, which make cigarettes more accessible to young people.