New anti-tobacco legislation was signed into law last year in Russia, including a ban smoking in public places. The new law also restricts where tobacco can be sold, smoking in the workplace and on public transportation, and bans representations of smoking in media content aimed at children. 

This is a significant change for a country with a historically high rate of smoking; before the law was passed, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev quoted the statistic that 400,000 Russians die every year from smoking-related illnesses, and noted the strength of the tobacco lobby.

An article in Rossiskaya Gazeta, the official government newspaper, also cited some unsettling statistics – over 40% of adults in Russia smoke (43.9 million people), and about 80% of Russians are subjected daily to secondhand smoke.

Russia’s younger generation may be starting to make different choices, however; a 2013 WHO report found that smoking was decreasing in the 13-15 year age group. Smoke-free public places as mandated under the new law will certainly help support those making healthier choices.