Alcohol and tobacco use among young people falls in the Russian Federation

Copenhagen and St Petersburg, 15 February 2013. Data published by WHO/Europe show a significant fall in alcohol and tobacco use by young people in the Russian Federation. The latest report from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study shows a decline in the number of 13-year-old girls who smoke at least once a week. Weekly smoking among 15-year-old boys and girls is also decreasing.
Similarly, alcohol consumption, which had grown steadily from 1998 to 2006, showed a marked decrease for both boys and girls.
While alcohol and tobacco consumption remains high in comparison to many of the 39 countries and regions participating in the HBSC study, the Russian Federation shows the lowest rates of any of the countries that were formerly part of the USSR.
“It’s welcome news that Russian teenagers appear to be making healthy choices in their lives and setting a good example to their parents,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “However, this report also highlights areas where policies could be adjusted – for example, to encourage more physical activity – to ensure good health outcomes in the future.”
Oleg Churganov, of the Research Institute of Physical Culture in St Petersburg, led the team of Russian researchers: “The state has recently taken steps to regulate tobacco and alcohol consumption among teenagers and this has led to positive changes in young people’s health behaviour. We are also seeing the benefits of comprehensive health promotion programmes in the Russian Federation’s educational institutions and a sport development strategy that has yielded an increase in physical activity in the general population. We hope to be able to achieve the same in the group aged 11–15 years in the near future.”

High life satisfaction
Russian 11-, 13- and 15-year-olds reported generally high satisfaction with their lives. For example, among 15-year-olds, 81% of girls and 86% of boys expressed satisfaction with their lives. These rates of satisfaction were higher than the HBSC average, and had increased from the 2006 results.

Low levels of exercise
As with other countries in the study, levels of physical activity in the Russian Federation are generally lower in girls and decline with age. Russian young people reported the lowest levels of exercise among all the countries formerly included in the USSR, and significantly less than the HBSC averages. 

For further information, contact:
Professor O.A. Churganov
Research Institute of Physical Culture in St Petersburg
Tel.:             +7 (812) 600-41-16      
Dr Vivian Barnekow
Programme Manager, Child and Adolescent Health and Development
Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Health Promotion
Tel.:             +45 39 17 14 10      ,             +45 51 53 95 61       (mobile)
Ms Elena Levina
Administrative Assistant
WHO Country Office, Russian Federation
Tel.:             +7 495 787-21-08      ,             +7 9858852871       (mobile)
Fax: +7 495 787-21-49