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Public Defender Evaluated the Situation in the Field of Tobacco Control


Lana Giorgidze

“In accordance to the Ordinance # 196 of the Government of Georgia, dated July 30, 2013, based on the data of the World Health Organization, from 9 000 to 11 000 people die annually in Georgia due to active or passive cigarette smoking, of whom 3 000 are victims of secondhand smoke,” reads the special report of the Public Defender of Georgia, which was presented on February 15 in the hotel Courtyard Marriot. 

As stated in the Report, a survey conducted by the Institute of Social Studies and Analysis confirms that 30.6% of the adult population in Georgia consumes tobacco. This data puts Georgia on the list of biggest smoker countries both in Europe and in the world. It should be noted that 56% of regular tobacco consumers are men and 9.6% are women. An additional 38% of the population are exposed to secondhand smoke.
Public Defender of Georgia Ucha Nanuashvili said the acting norms cannot ensure creation of tobacco free environment in the country. “There is not comprehensive prohibition of the tobacco advertising, popularization and sponsorship. Also, there are no regulations about electronic cigarette advertisements and realization. The existing regulations are not respected.”

“In our last year parliamentary report we tried to reflect this issue. We briefly analyzed the national legislation and obligations which the state has taken in this direction. We cooperated with nongovernmental organizations, which are members of the Campaign “Don’t Blow on Me,” Ucha Nanuashvili said.

Representative of the Public Defender’s Office Tamar Gugutishvili said when working on the special report they analyzed the studies of national and international organizations. “The special report reviews the international standards and miscarriages of the national legislation in the field of tobacco control, effective use of the national legislation about tobacco control by the state institutions, the threats caused by advertising tobacco and tobacco products among young generation, opinion of the Georgian population about the tobacco-free environment and other issues.”

Gugutishvili said, in 2013, the WHO evaluated the need of the implementation of the Convention on Tobacco Control in Georgia and preliminary analysis of the main challenges and alleged needs was conducted, which were partly considered by the executive authority. On January 27, 2014, the Association Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and Their Member States, of the one part and Georgia, of the other part was signed,” which was ratified by the Parliament of Georgia on July 18, 2014. 

“After the ratification of the Convention, we took responsibility to carry out different activities to reduce the harm caused by the tobacco. They are: increased excise duty on tobacco, prohibition of tobacco advertisements and popularization, prohibition of tobacco sponsorship, reduction of the harm caused by the tobacco smoke, awareness raising of the population and creation of available services for people, which will assist the tobacco consumers to give up smoking. Enough time has passed since the ratification of the Convention for the State to take effective measures but nowadays we still do not have effective legislation, which can meet the international standards; neither acting norms are effectively respected in the country,” Gugutishvili said.
As the representative of the PDO said, the acting legislation does not meet minimal international standards of the Convention on Tobacco Control.
Representatives of local and international organizations, state institutions attended the presentation of the special report of the Ombudsman’s Office. 

Representative of the local organization Tobacco Control Alliance Kakha Gvinianidze said it is important that the Ombudsman got interested in the tobacco control issues. “I wish the Office of the Public Defender paid attention to illegal sponsorship cases in future, I mean sponsorship of educational institutions, theaters and state institutions by tobacco companies.”

MP Mikheil Kavelashvili said, he will be stubborn to make the law about tobacco control stricter. “I am against strict prohibitions but in this particular case I want the draft law on tobacco control went in force soon. I hope my colleagues will support the amendments to the existing law.”
MP Giorgi Begadze said, he as the member of the Economic Committee in the Parliament, will support the bill. “Today we need brave decisions and we should not be afraid of that because it concerns the health of our people and future generation.”
The bill was submitted to the parliament for consideration during previous convocation but the process was dragged out and it was postponed for the next year.

Representative of the Tobacco Control Alliance Giorgi Bakhturidze said the representatives of the companies attended the discussion of the bill, that created obstacles for the process. He hope the ninth convocation of the parliament will support the bill and the authority will take effective and real steps in this direction. 

In the end of the presentation, the Public Defender voiced the recommendations. 
“I hope the recommendations elaborated by the Public Defender and other organizations will be fulfilled soon,” Ucha Nanuashvili said. 

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