Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

Tobacco control in the Russian Federation

November 2015

The Russian Federation, a country with high-burden tobacco-use, is currently implementing four of the best buy (MPOWER) measures to reduce tobacco use at the highest level of achievement.

In the context of implementing the MPOWER measures in the Russian Federation, WHO has contributed through: providing technical assistance for developing tobacco control legislation in compliance with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; promoting best practices for protecting people from exposure to tobacco smoke; providing technical and logistical support to government and nongovernmental organizations in their tobacco control programmes. WHO has also worked closely with the country to strengthen enforcement of the law, create public awareness and adopt higher taxes on all types of marketed tobacco products.

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With its heavy burden of tobacco-related illness, the Russian Federation is one of the five focus countries of the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use (BI). According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2010, adult smoking prevalence in the Russian Federation was 39.1% – one of the highest adult smoking rates in the European Region.

The Russian Federation has made important changes in its tobacco-control policy in recent years, in line with its obligations under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). The WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2015 estimates the WHO age-standardized prevalence for daily adult smoking (people aged 15 years and over) in the Russian Federation as 33%, using 2013 data. Russia has made serious efforts to tackle its tobacco epidemic and the results are encouraging. In March 2015, the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation reported that the number of smokers in Russia had fallen by about 17% since the adoption of tobacco control legislation in 2013.

The Russian Federation has been a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control since 2008.

WHO Bloomberg Initiative work in the Russian Federation

The Russian Federation is implementing several of the best buy (MPOWER) measures to reduce tobacco. Among them, monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies, protecting people from tobacco smoke, conducting national mass-media campaigns to warn people about the dangers of tobacco use and enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) are implemented at the highest level of achievement.

The overall goal of the WHO work as part of the Bloomberg Initiative in the Russian Federation is to support the government to strengthen country’s capacity for tobacco control and run sustainable tobacco control activities that have an immediate impact on tobacco epidemic, as well as to promote full implementation of the WHO FCTC.

WHO-supported activities

Surveillance and Monitoring

Through surveillance and monitoring of tobacco, WHO encourages the use of standards and scientific and evidence-based protocols for tobacco surveys. Data collected serve as the basis for future public health research and contribute to effective monitoring and control of the tobacco epidemic.

WHO supports the Government of the Russian Federation to identify specific strategies for use of evidence in tobacco control policies and programmes, and to implement effective MPOWER policies to protect health of Russian citizens.

Thus, in line with WHO methodology, in 2009 the Information and publishing centre (Statistics of Russia), the Federal State Statistics Service (RosStat) and the Pulmonary Research Institute conducted the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) – the first survey conducted in the Russian Federation at national level using electronic data collection tools.

In 2016 the second round of the GATS is set to be conducted in the country.

The Russian Federation has not conducted the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) since 1999.

Tobacco control policy and legislation

The key development in tobacco control policy for the Russian Federation was the 2013 adoption of a new comprehensive tobacco control law. The new tobacco control legislation bans smoking in public places, requires graphic health warnings on cigarette packs and prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products. The legislation has been in force since 1 June 2013, but some of its provisions — including a ban on smoking in restaurants, hotels and trains — came into effect on 1st June 2014. WHO played an active role in monitoring and supporting the process to ensure the law remains strong and will bring about real change in public health in the Russian Federation.

Capacity building

In line with its BI workplan for Russia, WHO works closely with Ministry of Health and BI partners to increase the country’s capacity to develop and implement effective tobacco control measures. WHO also closely cooperates with the Russian Ministry of Finance and Federal Tax Service promoting the issue of a tobacco tax increase.

WHO supported the organization of various meetings and consultations on acute problems regarding tobacco control in the Russian Federation, including the enforcement of tobacco control law, low tobacco taxes, tobacco industry interference in public policy, and children’s exposure to second-hand smoke.

With support from WHO and other BI partners, the Russian Federation launched an outdoor anti-tobacco campaign in early 2015, estimated to be the largest anti-tobacco social media campaign in the country in the last 3 years. The campaign is running on 1000 billboards and 3000 street posters, supported by a video.

WHO has also supported the creation of a Union of Tobacco-free Cities in the Russian Federation tasked with protecting people from the harmful effects of tobacco consumption and second-hand smoke.