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Ban for smoking postponed

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, May 3
Smoking in public places in Georgia will be banned on May 1 2018, a year later than was originally planned.

The author of the draft bill, Guguli Maghradze, says that the decision was made after active consultations between Parliament and the government.

“We have reached a certain consensus after a month of consultations with the government. Smoking in public places will be banned from May 1 2018,” she said.

Maghradze’s initiative envisaged the ban of smoking in public places from September 1 2017. Moreover, the previous bill envisaged the prohibition of smoking in all buildings except houses and prisons.

However, after the consultations it was decided that smoking will not be prohibited in casinos and cigar bars in case of serious license.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of Health Akaki Zoidze said that smoking will be prohibited in all closed buildings except bars and casinos.

Zoidze says that casinos and bars are such places where underage people and children are not allowed, as well as being places that could see huge losses if smoking was prohibited there.

“I would like to emphasize that this only applies to casinos that have licenses, which is linked to quite a large amount of money. Similar conditions will be in cigar bars, where only the smoking of cigars will be possible,” Zoidze explained.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) support the adoption of the Tobacco-Control Law in Georgia.

“The UN Country Team in Georgia welcomes the efforts of the Government and the Parliament of Georgia to address tobacco smoking – an issue on which Georgia is one of the worst performing countries,” the WHO and UNDP statement reads.

At a joint press conference on May 2, the organizations updated the media about preliminary findings of the FCTC Investment Case, recent research implemented by the WHO and UNDP to promote implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in Georgia.

They also informed the media about the economic burden of tobacco smoking in Georgia, the importance and practical implications of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) for the member states, and key measures of tobacco control.

It was stated that in Georgia, the prevalence of smoking among men is among the highest in the world at approximately 57%; the prevalence of smoking among women, despite still being relatively low, has almost doubled in recent years.

The WHO reiterated that approximately 11,000 citizens of Georgia die prematurely every year from diseases caused by tobacco, and among those are 3,000 non-smokers.

“The draft legislation being considered by the Parliament this week would be a significant step forward in saving lives, growing the economy and further integrating the country with the European Union,” the organizations said.

The WHO and UNDP also issued several recommendations and key measures of tobacco-control. They are:

• Strong picture warnings: hard-hitting anti-tobacco advertisements and graphic pack warnings – especially those that include pictures.

• Comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

• Tobacco taxes increase.

• A complete ban on smoking in all indoor public places.

• Strictly regulating “e-cigarettes” or positioning them equally to other tobacco products.

• Protecting public health from the vested and commercial interests of the tobacco industry.

• Providing advice and support to those who want to quit smoking.