May 31, 2012. Armenia Shall Protect Health Policy from the Tobacco Industry Interference

Each year the world celebrates No Tobacco Day under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO). This year the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD 2012) focused on the need to expose and counter the tobacco industry’s increasingly aggressive attempts to undermine and confront global tobacco control efforts.

At the press conference held on May 31 at “Henaran” (Henaran.am) press-club, Dr. Narine Movsisyan, Senior Programs Manager, College of Health Sciences, American University of Armenia, and Dr. Arusyak Harutyunyan, Coordinator of the Coalition for Tobacco Free Armenia, reflected on the WNTD theme.

Dr. Movsisyan mentioned that tobacco is the only product that kills its consumer when used as intended. The tobacco product causes death and disease and it is highly addictive.  Based on this unequivocal evidence, the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was developed and came into force in 2005. The speaker talked about the irreconcilable conflict of interest between the tobacco industry’s interest and the public health interest. As stated by the Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC),  “in setting and implementing their public health policies in respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.”  Although Armenia ratified FCTC in 2004, the Armenian legislation does not provide effective protection of the public from tobacco smoke.

Dr. Harutyunyan presented the current situation in Armenia in regards to smoking prevalence and exposure to secondhand smoke. According to the Demographic and Health Survey (2010), 63% of 15-49 year old men and 2% of women are smokers. She added that in Armenia, people are widely exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS) at homes and in public places.