YEREVAN—Armenia’s Health Minister Levon Altunyan announced on Wednesday that the country’s leadership had instructed him to declare war on smoking in the country, reducing the number of smokers by 30 to 40 percent.
During a press conference, which coincided with World No Tobacco Day, the Director of the National Healthcare Institute Alexander Bazarchyan said that a new program has been developed to fight tobacco and has been presented to the government. The new program seeks strict legislative changes, improvement of healthcare services, public information/advertisements, and international cooperation.
According to a 2015 report by the World Health Organization, the prevalence of tobacco use among adults amounted to 25.4 percent (males 50.9 percent and females 3.2 percent) in 2012. “In the absence of strict policies for tobacco control, this figure can be increased,” read Thursday’s press statement by the Ministry of Health.
“Seven million people die per year as a result of smoking, 600,000 of which die of secondhand smoking,” stated Ezor Zaytsev, representative of the World Health Organization to Armenia. He called on people to not smoke in the presence of loved ones or to quit smoking entirely.
Per the newly proposed legislation, smoking will be banned in public spaces, including restaurants and bars, according to various news outlets in Armenia.
In addition, Altunyan said that if the legislation passes, taxes on tobacco products will be raised.
The health minister said that the draft legislation will be discussed with partner organizations and the public at large. The legislation will be reviewed and amended in November 2017.
The programs created for tobacco control aim to reduce diseases caused by tobacco, the number of deaths and disabilities, and improving public health and increasing life expectancy.