While a number of studies, based on cross-sectional data for Russia, have documented strong increases in female smoking during the past two decades, the analysis of longer-term trends in smoking prevalence is hampered by the lack of representative data for the Soviet era. In this paper we create life-course smoking histories based on retrospective data from the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey of HSE (RLMS-HSE) and the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) which allow us to examine the dynamics of smoking patterns over the past 7 decades. We find that smoking rates differ most strongly by gender within all cohorts, but that this differential has decreased over time, driven by increases in female smoking and more recently by decreases in smoking among men. For both genders we observe that the education gradient has become steeper over time, with smoking rates having increased at a higher rate among those with the lowest educational attainment. These findings suggest that the development of smoking in Russia mirrors that described in the model of the tobacco epidemic and observed in Western high-income countries.