Smoking in Armenia

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The Problem of Smoking in Armenia by Hagop Panossian, ARPA Institute

ANN/Groong January 17, 2006

A new law on restricting the sale, consumption and use of tobacco products in the Republic of Armenia (RA) was in force on March 2, 2005. It prohibits smoking in any public transport system, and in all cultural, educational and health institutions. The National Assembly of RA passed the law after it was twice rejected by the lawmakers, some of whom are the biggest cigarette producers and importers in RA. The same parliament also ratified the European Union's Framework Convention on Tobacco control (FCTC). One of the requirements of FCTC is to implement the rule of the World Health Organization that requires warning labels on cigarette packs. The latter part of the law will become mandatory in 2008 and cigarette advertising will be outlawed by 2010.

According to recent statistics more than 70 percent of men in RA are smokers, a higher percentage than any country in Europe. The number of women and especially teenage smokers has registered an increase in recent years, as has the production and import of cigarettes in RA. According to official figures, around 1.7 billion cigarettes were imported into RA in 2004.

Recent efforts to reduce tobacco use and the exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in Armenia are encouraging. These efforts will hopefully be fruitful. For, it is well known that if smoking does not start during adolescence, it is unlikely ever to occur. It is also known that the probability of cessation among adults is inversely related to age at initiation. Even infrequent experimental smoking in adolescence significantly increases the risk of adult smoking. Once smoking has begun, cessation is difficult and smoking is likely to be a long-term addiction. The duration of smoking is 16 and 20 years for 50% of the smokers. Hence, prevention on the onset of adolescent smoking is an essential component of efforts to reduce smoking and its attendant morbidity and mortality in Armenia.

The often cited most important factors contributing to smoking are: age, gender, ethnicity and acculturation, living arrangements, family size and structure, parental socioeconomic status, spending money and employment status, and rural/urban residence. Stress and the associated distress or depression could also be important factors in the initiation of smoking. Other factors that have been consistently associated with smoking are self-esteem and personal health concerns. Smoking among adolescents typically rise with increasing age and grade level in school. Adolescents who begin smoking at a younger age are more likely to become regular smokers and less likely to quit smoking. Individuals who adopt a healthy lifestyle and understand its implications tend to stay away from smoking, drinking and other addictions. Young people in Armenia are virtually unaware of the health risks of the use of tobacco and alcohol.

ARPA Institute is proud to have initiated the Health Education and Lifestyle program (HELP) in 1998. The health risks in smoking, excessive drinking, substance and drug abuse, unhealthy diets as well as the benefits of healthy diets, exercise and a positive attitude in life have been taught to over 10,000 adolescent students in RA during the past 7 years. The Government of Armenia, the Ministry of Education and Science (MES), recently started to implement their version of health education and lifestyle in 16 schools this year and 125 schools next academic year. The Executive Director of ARPA, Hovsep Seferian, is working with the MES and the American University of Armenia (AUA) to implement and enhance this program and to develop a publicity campaign that will utilize the media, will organize public gatherings and publications to try to motivate the youth to say no to smoking and to be aware of the above mentioned health risks. A new video has been developed, with the help of Kapriel Panossian, that will air on TV during the New Year and will make the public aware about the health risks of smoking. The HELP course is being taught in 21 schools in Stepanakert and Shushi in Karabagh since last year and Mr.& Mrs. Anivian are the sponsors for the program. The Board of Directors of ARPA is grateful for their support.

We would appreciate any inputs or assistance from the readers of this article and the community at large. Please help us raise the longevity of the population of RA. The economic impact of early death due to preventable health risks is staggering. Armenia needs a great deal of help to get to a level of economic and political strength in par with Europe. Please help us help our compatriots.

Hagop Panossian <hpanossian@hotmail.com> Web: http://www.arpainstitute.org/

ARMENIA RANKS SIXTH FOR NUMBER OF SMOKERS: WHO REPORT

YEREVAN, August 9 /ARKA/. Armenia ranks sixth for the number of smokers in the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports on the basis of the information for 2002-2006. According to the report, about 64% of the adult Armenian population smokes.

The WHO reports that Mongolia ranks first in this list, where 67.8% of the adult population smokes. China is among the five heaviest countries smokers (66.9%), Kenya (66.8%), Cambodia (66%) and Namibia (65%). Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan rank 13th and 14th (60%), Belarus – 23rd (54.9%), Ukraine and Lithuania – 30th and 31st (51.1%), Latvia and Uzbekistan – 35th and 36th (49%). Estonia ranks 47th (44%), Azerbaijan – 85th (32%), and Turkmenistan – 95th (27%). R.O. –0--

FORTY FIVE DRIVERS FIRED BECAUSE OF SMOKING

Panorama.am 18:55 06/08/2007

Forty-five mini bus drivers have been sacked in the course of this year because of smoking. Citizens have made about 350 calls at hot line 39-16-53 announced by municipality. All drivers were punished, Karen Yedigaryan, Director of Yerevantrans, told a briefing today.

In his words, drivers who are dismissed for smoking cannot work in the same field. As the first warning, drivers are notified followed by a fine of 25,000 drams and a dismissal.

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