Supporting effective tobacco control in Armenia
BlueLink was one of the Bulgarian organisations who signed-on to a letter on behalf of Armenian tobacco control advocates. The Armenian parliament just passed a strong tobacco control law bill in the first of three floor votes and we are trying to shore up support before the second vote. The bill covers most key measures with strong support from Armenian MOH.
On December 16, 2019, the international tobacco control/public health community sign a group letter of support for this bill to the Armenian parliament. This is particularly important given the recent visit to Yerevan of Philip Morris’ leading lobbyist Dereck Yach, where he met with Armenian MPs to lobby for excluding heated tobacco products from the law. The letter shows that the mass of US and European tobacco control NGOs are aware and watching.
The letter initiated by Matt Myers, President of CTFK, was addressed to Ararat Mirzoyan, President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia and the members of Armenia’s Parliament. The undersigned international organizations congratulated the National Assembly of Armenia for passing in the first reading the draft law “On the Reduction and Prevention of Health Harms Resulting from Tobacco Products and Tobacco Substitutes”, and urged that it would be fully adopted, to ensure “the greatest protection from the deadly impact of tobacco and nicotine use” in Armenia.
Nearly 30% of Armenian adults smoke – that is every 4th person aged 18-69. Every second adult male (51.5%) smokes, while female and youth smoking and vaping rates are rising. Without enacting strong, effective measures to combat tobacco use, Armenia will see its population continue to decline as the tobacco industry successfully markets its deadly product the next generation of Armenian citizens.
The signatories of the letter believe that the passed draft law will address these problems. “The bill follows international best practices proven to protect the largest number of people from tobacco and tobacco substitutes”, they wrote.
The measures as currently written in the bill meet or exceed most of the articles and guidelines of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which Armenia ratified in 2004 and is obligated to implement. They include establishing 100% smoke-free public places, banning all forms of tobacco promotion and sponsorship, banning flavorings, and mandating plain packaging of these products.
The authors voiced strong support for the bill’s inclusion of all tobacco and tobacco replacement products, including heated tobacco products and electronic cigarettes. “Regardless of industry claims about these products, they are clearly addictive, they have not been proven to be safe, and should be strictly regulated to keep them away from kids,” the letter pointed out.
International experience shows conclusively that similar tobacco control laws work, they are popular, and they do not harm the economy, the international organisations confirmed. Across Europe, Eurasia, and all over the world, countries have been passing strong measures such as this bill to great success and popularity. Wherever strong, comprehensive measures are passed and well-implemented, tobacco use is declining and health impacts are improving, the letter reads.
The authors pointed out that obacco industry works aggressively in every country to weaken governments’ resolve to protect the health of their citizens. Among their tactics is denying the extent of health harms associated with tobacco use, distributing misinformation about these measures, and threatening governments with economic doomsday scenarios. We encourage you not to be deceived by these tactics. “The tobacco industry’s sole motive is to grow its consumer base at the expense of human lives and all of their claims have been disproven in country after country where strong tobacco control laws are implemented,” said the authors.
Among the letter’s signatories were the European Smoke-free Partnership and the European Network for Smoking Prevention. Other Bulgarian signatories include the Coalition for Life without Smoke and the Smoke-free Bulgaria Association. The international public health community is now watching Armenia's progress on these new protective measures with high expectations that the National Assembly will take action on public health and act as a role model for other countries.
Since 2010 BlueLink has been providing research and communications instruments for improved tobacco control policies, public participation and decision making, media coverage and against tobacco industry interference.
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