Comprehensive approach to tobacco control in Russian Federation shows results


A comprehensive approach to tobacco control has helped the Government of the Russian Federation drastically lower the number of smokers in just 7 years.

According to a WHO report, the Russian Federation approach to tobacco control has lowered the sales of tobacco by almost 30% and the number of smokers by 21% from 2009 to 2016. The report, Tobacco control: a comprehensive approach at country level in the Russian Federation, describes the initiatives and policy changes which have made this possible.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the Russian Federation was among the countries with highest prevalence of smoking in the world. Almost 40% of the adult population used tobacco in one form or another. The country was even seeing an increase in the number of young adults and females smoking on a regular basis.

Faced with this situation, the government decided to join the WHO effort to combat the tobacco epidemic by ratifying the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2008 and implementing a wide range of tobacco control interventions.

A wide approach

In 2013, Russia passed law 15 FZ, one of the most comprehensive anti-tobacco laws in the world, and in 2014 the most significant drop in tobacco sales was registered.

The law includes:

  • a complete ban on tobacco-smoking in public places, including areas adjacent to medical, education, sports and cultural institutions;
  • a ban on the sale of oral forms of smokeless tobacco;
  • a total ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products;
  • annual increases in the prices of tobacco products.

Law 15 FZ follows the spirit of the WHO FCTC, a treaty that is legally binding and ratified by 181 countries all over the world.

Taxes could save 11 million lives

Increases in tobacco taxes are known to reduce tobacco consumption faster than any other single measure. WHO estimates that if all countries increased the tax charged on cigarette packs by 50%, there would be 49 million fewer smokers, and at least 11 million deaths could be averted worldwide.

WHO therefore recommends that increased taxation should be a key component of any approach to reducing the use of tobacco. Not only will the increase in taxes greatly reduce tobacco sales and tobacco consumption in the country (alongside other tobacco control measures), it will also boost tax revenue.

Tobacco reduction part of a sustainable future

Russia is not alone in basing its efforts to reduce tobacco consumption and the illnesses it creates on the WHO FCTC.

In 2015, the United Nations set down the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. SDG 3.4 aims to reduce by one third premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases, such as the ones caused by smoking. Target 3a specifically commits countries to strengthen the implementation of the WHO FCTC to help battle noncommunicable diseases.

The inclusion of tobacco control and implementation of the WHO FCTC as a key SDG target recognizes the magnitude of the smoking epidemic. It also indicates that all countries should prioritize tobacco control and commit to implementing strong tobacco control measures.