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Russian Ministry Official Encourages Smokers To Switch To Vaping

Russian Ministry Official Encourages Smokers To Switch To Vaping

Russian Ministry Official Encourages Smokers To Switch To Vaping

The vaping industry may have found an unlikely ally in the fight against combustible cigarettes: Russia. Recently, Russian ministry officials have come out and encouraged smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, even floating the proposal of a different tax scheme in order to make vaping more affordable than cigarettes. This comes after Russia has battled, for years, against the deadly life-shortening effects of cigarettes.

Like some of the countries with more progressive attitudes towards vaping including the United Kingdom and New Zealand, the rationale by the Russian government is simple: smokers that make the switch to vaping are less likely to get sick or die. While vaping is not as foolproof a plan as complete nicotine cessation, the switch results in considerably harm reduction for the country.   

“Smokers should switch to ENDS and electronic tobacco heating systems,” Russian Minister of Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov told the Moscow-based business paper Vedomosti. “We suggest making a special law to regulate such devices with obvious restrictions, such as sale ban to minors, no smoking in schools, kindergartens and other similar places, and also we need to introduce administrative responsibility for violation of these restrictions.”

Russia’s Smoking Problem

This move by the Russian government comes as the country has struggled to combat the widespread use of combustible cigarettes. In 2016, according to the World Health Organization, 29.9 percent of Russian adults smoke cigarettes, including 48.8 percent of men. That is almost twice as many smokers overall as in the United States and United Kingdom, which both had 15.5 percent smoking rates in 2016. Approximately 300,000 to 400,000 Russians die every year as a result of smoking related diseases.

A report by the New York Times from January 2017 outlined the dire situation in Russia and said that President Vladimir Putin’s administration was looking to phase out smoking completely. Additionally, in 2013, he signed a law that banned smoking in most public places, raised taxes on tobacco products, and eliminated the sale of cigarettes from certain street kiosks.    

This 2013 plan has had an impact, especially in cutting the number of teenagers who smoke by more than 50 percent.The number of children aged 13 to 15 who smoke declined to 9.3 percent in 2015 from 25.4 percent in 2004, according to the Health Ministry and the New York Times.


The most creative aspect of Russia’s strategy against its heavy-smoking population is the fact that they're using taxation as both a deterrent and incentive.

In other countries including the United States, vaping has been taxed at the same rate as tobacco products because they both contain nicotine, which has been falsely linked as the cause of smoking-related diseases.

Using taxation as a way to move the market from harmful substances like combustible cigarettes to less-damaging activities such vaping is a different approach altogether. It splits the difference between government intervention in a public health crisis with completely taking away cigarettes from smokers. Perhaps a combination of financial incentives and moral pleas is what we need to axe smoking for good.