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Russians Switching But Face Ban

The Federal State Statistics Service has revealed that smokers are Russian away from smokes and towards vapes – which is unfortunate given Moscow’s decision to ban ecigs in 2024

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Russian smokers are swapping their tobacco cigarettes from reduced harm vapes in their droves, according to the latest data available from the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat). The leap to the safer alternative mirrors the rest of the world but comes at a time when vapes are inexplicably under attack by authorities in Russia with a complete ban on flavoured products slated for March 1, 2024.

As reported by Business Petersburg, the switch to vaping has driven a 1.9x increase in the decline of smoking when comparing sales across January to June with the same period the previous year, according to the data published in the unified interdepartmental information and statistical system.

The figures show that 133 cigarettes per person per month were sold in St. Petersburg during January to June 2022. One year later, the average reduced to just 70.

Rosstat

The vape-related decline in smoking was mirrored across other regions – but most striking in St. Petersburg. Previously, the city occupied the top four smoking sales slots alongside Magadan, the Nizhny Novgorod regions and the Kamchatka Territory.

Following the latest results, St. Petersburg has dropped to 56th in the country marking a resounding success for the tobacco harm reduction products.

Looking at the other regions, average sales dropped from 133 to 100 per person.

The newspaper reports drops in sales in Dagestan and North Ossetia by a quarter - from 133 to 100 cigarettes per person. In the Nizhny Novgorod region, a drop of 23.9% - from 250 to 216.7 units per capita. In Moscow, the figure decreased by 9% - from 73.3 to 66.7 cigarettes per person.

In fact, just one territory is reported as not having experienced a decline in tobacco product sales, but Stavropol already had one of the leading lowest rates of smoking. One is reported as having experienced a rise in sales – 117% in Kabardino-Balkaria – but this is explained “by the low base effect. In absolute terms, sales there increased from 10 to 21.7 cigarettes per capita - this is one of the smallest figures in Russia.”

The paper states that the observed decline in cigarette sales can be explained “by the drift of the population towards new types of products - including vapes”.

Polina Velichkina, head of ‘big data’ at Evotor, said: "It is not related to quitting smoking at all, but to the fact that smokers are switching from regular cigarettes to electronic cigarettes. The younger generation begins to smoke with them, and not with cigarettes. And the growth rate of sales of electronic cigarettes is higher than the fall of conventional cigarettes.”

Russian authorities claim that vapes are being marketed to their youth and that corn syrup, honey, stevia, and maple syrup are added to eliquids to promote their attractiveness. For this reason they have decided to ban all flavours from March next year – their national broadcasters are going to have to go into overdrive to explain the inevitable rise in tobacco sales and further growth in the black market.

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Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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