New anti-smoking law in Russia

March 13th, 2015 00:00

Tight new anti-smoking law that becomes effective these days in Russia has shocked tobacco manufacturers as they deal with the prospect of decreasing sales and tougher laws of their industry.

Russia was once viewed as a major growing market for the tobacco industry with its higher range of chain smokers eager to go for Western cigarette brands; however from June 1 there will be a total ban on cigarette use in restaurants, cafes and hotels. In the first phase of the ban, Russia a year ago banned smoking on municipal transport along with public places like schools, administrative structures and hospitals.

The tough law also prohibits all sorts of cigarette advertising and marketing and calls for all cigarette packages be covered from consumers at the point of sale. Smokers will have to select the brand with the help of a catalogue without any images or logos. “This is one of the toughest anti-smoking regulations across the world,” stated Alexander Lyuty, the marketing and sales communications representative in Russia of British American Tobacco (BAT).

Based on the state statistics organization Rosstat, the range of cigarette users in Russia is about 40 million out of a population of around 143 million. In 2013, the cigarette market in Russia shortened by 7.5 %, Lyuty added. The motives included increasing prices on cigarettes, which Russia is taxing more seriously. “During the last five years, taxes on tobacco products have boosted by 25 %,” stated Lyuty. A package that cost about 25 rubles in 2010 is today sold for 59 rubles (US$1.70).

The price continues to be insignificant to Western Europeans, but Russians with their lower spending power are at present looking for more affordable alternatives. “The main worries of the tobacco industry representatives in Russia are more and more tough legislations of what we do for advertising, which stops us from finding new customers and as a result achieving our goals,” the source stated. We are being pushed into invisibility,” explained one representative of the US cigarette leader Philip Morris, who refused to tell his name.

The medium age when Russian children primary try tobacco products is among the lowest worldwide, with some smoking from the age of 10 or 12, based on the Russian Union of Paediatricians. The new steps didn't affect the long-term smoker at all, who said that she prefers saving money on food to quitting smoking, even if the price of a package rises five times.

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