The Decline of Traditional Cigarettes: Russians Switch to E-Cigarettes

The Decline of Traditional Cigarettes: Russians Switch to E-Cigarettes
Russian cigarette sales drop as smokers shift to e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, according to Rosstat data.

According to data released by the Russian Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) on August 28th, the sales volume of regular cigarettes in Russia is declining as smokers are shifting from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

According to the data, the per capita retail sales volume of various types of cigarettes in Saint Petersburg, Russia, showed an average year-on-year decline of 47% from January to June 2023. In the same period last year, from January to June 2022, the average number of cigarettes sold per person per month in Saint Petersburg was 133, while currently it is only 70. Comparing to the results from the first six months of last year, Saint Petersburg sold an average of 70 cigarettes per person per month.

The decrease in cigarette sales in some major cities may be attributed to the growing popularity of new products, including e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

Polina Vilichkina, leader of the big data company "Evotor," points out that the decline in regular cigarette sales is a trend in Russia in recent years. However, this does not mean that people are quitting smoking but rather that smokers are shifting from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes.

According to Vilichkina, the younger generation is increasingly turning to e-cigarettes rather than traditional cigarettes when they start smoking.

Furthermore, the growth rate of e-cigarette sales is higher than the decline rate of traditional cigarettes.

At the same time, the sales of smokeless nicotine products are also increasing. It is estimated that the number of stores selling Swedish snus has doubled in the past year. Despite Russia banning the sale of Swedish snus since 2015, smokeless nicotine mixtures are not legally restricted at the federal level. However, authorities in some regions, such as the Arkhangelsk Oblast, do not allow the sale of such products.

Experts believe that the unusual nature of sales data in Saint Petersburg may be attributed to a miscalculation in the statistical methods used by the Russian Federal State Statistics Service.

However, experts believe that the decline in official sales might also be genuine, as the data from the National Statistics Bureau is based on tax revenues and does not account for counterfeit products. Given the decrease in people's income, many individuals have started saving money and turned to purchasing goods from the grey market.

According to experts' estimates, there are numerous websites on the internet that offer opportunities to purchase cigarettes at significantly lower prices than the official rates. However, analyst Ivan Fegekov claims that all products sold on these websites are counterfeit.

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