Smoking in Russia: The 'Marlboro Man' Rides but Without 'Virginia Slims' for Now

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Comparative Economic Studies




Based on two rounds of a nationally representative household survey, this paper presents an exploratory study of risk factors and the economics of the decision to smoke by adults in Russia in the second haft of the 1990s. With an overall smoking prevalence of 32.2%, smoking is much more prevalent among men (61.4%) than among women (10.3%). The risk of smoking is on the rise in Russia due mainly to the growing incidence of female smoking, especially in major urban centres, where the impact of modern culture and Western tobacco companies is more profound. The low estimated price elasticities of the decision to smoke for men (-0.085) and for women (-0.628) suggest that an excise tax on cigarettes is not an effective means to reduce the prevalence of smoking. The decision to smoke is also found to be very income inelastic. Formal education, occupation, alcohol consumption, and obesity are associated with smoking in a way similar to developed countries.