The number of Russian women who smoke has more than doubled since the collapse of the Soviet Union, according to new research.
In 1992, seven per cent of women smoked, compared to almost 15 per cent by 2003. In the same period, the number of men who smoke has risen from 57 per cent to 63 per cent.
The researchers behind the study, published in the journal Tobacco Control, blame the privatisation of the previously state owned tobacco industry and the behaviour of the transnational tobacco companies (TTCs) for what they describe as a very worrying increase.
Between 1992 and 2000, TTCs such as Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International invested approximately US$1.7 billion to gain a 60 per cent share of the privatised Russian tobacco market.
Tobacco advertising had simply not existed in the Soviet era. Yet as soon as the TTCs were there, it was rampant, say researchers. By the mid 1990s it was estimated that half of all billboards in Moscow and three quarters of plastic bags in Russia carried tobacco advertising.
There can be no doubt that the marketing tactics of Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and the like directly underpin this massive increase in smoking that spells disaster for health in Russia, said Dr Anna Gilmore from the University of Bath, who carried out the study with academics from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and University College London, and has been researching tobacco control in the region for over seven years.
Following privatisation of the tobacco industry, TTCs invested heavily in developing the market, promoting smoking as part of the new western lifestyle.
They aggressively targeted women, young people and those living in cities with their marketing and distribution strategies. This is now directly reflected in the smoking patterns we are seeing. Until this point women in Russia had simply not smoked.
|Contact: Andrew McLaughlin|
University of Bath