London, Jan 27 : Smoking rates among women in Russia have aggravated by two fold since the collapse of the Soviet Union, say researchers.
The study, led by Bath University scientists, suggests that "aggressive targeting" of women by tobacco firms was behind the rise.
In the study, the researchers monitored 7,000 people over 11 years and found that 7 percent of women smoked in 1992, compared with 15 percent in 2003.
Manufacturer British American Tobacco said the increase was due to Russians having more money for cigarettes.
Dr Anna Gilmore, lead researcher, said that tobacco advertising had been virtually non-existent in the Soviet Union.
Companies invested heavily in developing the market, promoting smoking as part of the new 'western lifestyle'
But once the break-up started, the nationalised smoking industry disintegrated, allowing the big tobacco firms to push their products.
"There can be no doubt that the marketing tactics of Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and the like directly underpin this massive increase in smoking that spells disaster for health in Russia," BBC quoted Gilmore, as saying.
"Following privatisation of the tobacco industry, companies invested heavily in developing the market, promoting smoking as part of the new 'Western lifestyle'," she added.
The study also found that the number of men smoking rose from 57 percent in 1992 to 63 percent in 2003.
The study is published in the Tobacco Control journal.