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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Tobacco control in the Russian Federation- a policy analysis

Karsten Lunze1* and Luigi Migliorini2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Medicine, Boston University, 801 Massachusetts Ave Crosstown 2077, Boston, MA 02118, USA

2 WHO Russian Federation, 9, Leontievsky pereulok, Moscow 125009, Russia

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:64  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-64

Published: 23 January 2013



The Russian Federation (Russia) has one of the highest smoking rates in the world. The purpose of this study is to analyze past and current trends of the tobacco epidemic in the Russian Federation, review current tobacco control policy responses, and identify areas of opportunity for policy priorities.


We used a policy triangle as analytical framework to examine content, context, and processes of Russian tobacco control policy. The analysis was based on secondary data on supply and demand sides of the Russian tobacco epidemic, tobacco-related economic and health effects during Russia’s economic transition, and compliance of Russian tobacco policy with international standards and regulations.


Tobacco-promoting strategies have specifically targeted women and youth. Russia’s approval of a “National Tobacco Control Concept” and draft for a comprehensive tobacco control bill increasingly align national legislature with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). However, several structural and cultural factors represent substantial barriers to the policy process. The influence of transnational tobacco companies on policy processes in Russia has so far impeded a full implementation of the FCTC mandates.


Several strategies have been identified as having the potential to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use in Russia and decrease tobacco-related national health and economic burden: adjusting national tobacco policy by raising tobacco tax from the current lowest level in Europe to at least 70%; consequent enforcement of a complete smoking ban in public places; marketing restrictions; and smoking cessation interventions integrated into primary care. Russia’s tobacco control efforts need to target women and youths specifically to efficiently counter industry efforts.