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Member of the European Parliament: “Georgian Tobacco Control Law is inconsistent with the EU Tobacco Directives”

Since the introduction of new regulations on tobacco control in Georgia, the discussion has not yet been suspended and presumably it will last for a long time. Even now the Parliament is considering amendments to the new law, and almost every time it has to adjust to newly appointed “unfulfilled articles”.

At the initial stage it was mentioned that, the amendments should have been interpreted in a manner consistent with EU directives, however the media and the part of the specialists noted that Some of the articles of Georgian Tobacco control law do not correspond to EU Directives.

CBW had an interview with the member of European Parliament, Andrejs Mamikins regarding the Law of Georgia on Tobacco Control.

– How would you assess the implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement? What are the key achievements? Challenges that need to be addressed by the Georgian Authorities?

– The implementation of the AA in Georgia has shown much better results than in other associated countries. Georgia has undertaken substantial reforms for the successful implementation of AA, and has significantly approached the acquis of the EU. European path is now even enshrined in the Constitution, and I believe this will allow us strengthen cooperation on many issues. Georgia has shown good capacity of EU funds absorption. I positively assess the ministerial reforms in Georgia and the gradual introduction of fully-proportionate parliamentary elections system.

Some challenges related to the reform of judiciary and human rights standards still have to be addressed. The Association Agenda inevitably has to take account of the legacy of the previous governments Georgia has had since its independence in 1991. Georgia still has to complete the institutional capacity-building to have at the same time strong and flexible administration. Therefore, this Report does not only contain the assessment of the achievements, but provides concrete recommendations for further work. To keep good path in the matter of association I took care that the report contains the call to provide more expertise assistance to Georgia in the following years.

Furthermore, We would like to draw your attention to the new Tobacco Control Law of Georgia. According to the Article 356 of the  EU-Georgia Association Agreement, Georgia undertakes the responsibility to approximate its legislation to the EU legislation and international health agreements. According to the study, that was prepared by the NGOs and Business Association, Tobacco Control Law (TCL) that entered info force on May 1, 2018 is not in line with the EU TPD. Moreover, according to experts, out of 41 articles of the TCL, 36 (Articles) do not correspond to the EU TPD.

Could you please share with us your opinion? Should Georgia harmonize its TCL with the EU TPD?

– In my opinion, health and safety issues should be among top priorities for Georgia as a part of its engagement in strengthening the well-being of people.

Georgia became part of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on 15 May 2006. Since then, the process of legislative improvement in this field had been quite slow, until 1 of May 2018 when Georgia started to introduce the new comprehensive tobacco control law which was welcomed by the WTO Convention Secretariat. In addition, Georgia is one of the 15 countries participating in FCTC 2030 project.  Even though some provisions of the new law in Georgia were postponed till 2022, I believe that this has been a real quality leap for Georgia in this field.

In its attempt of legislative harmonization with the EU, Georgia needs to take the measures to comply with both EU’s Tobacco Product Directive and Tobacco Tax Directive. While there is good progress on compliance with the latest, the first Directive should be better transposed into Georgian legislative system.

– Does the EU TPD stipulates the differentiation of regulatory approach of electronic cigarettes versus regular cigarettes and novel tobacco products?

– EU Tobacco Product Directive makes clear definitions of both products that Georgia also would need to consider. In my view, the definitions are the starting point of a correct application of law, and they should correspond to the new market realities. Electronic cigarettes should not be considered the same way as tobacco products, since e-cigarettes represent completely new product and therefore, require different definition. Currently, nicotine-delivery devices are classified and regulated as tobacco products in accordance with the Law of Georgia on Tobacco Control. They should be subject to the same control and restriction provisions, however their sale should be regulated in a different ways, in accordance with the EU TPD.

– According to the Official Statistical information of the Revenue Service of Georgia, illicit trade has been increased significantly during last two years. What would be your suggestion to Georgian Authorities in regard with introducing effective mechanisms in the fight against illicit trade?

– Georgia would need to increase the efficiency of implementation of the current law and fight the phenomenon of tobacco black market that can disturb fair competition and lead to enormous costs to the state in terms of health issues. Georgian authorities would need to increase control of the shops and platforms that make available tobacco products. This is one of the elements of fighting corruption and counterfeiting that make Georgian economy lose important economic benefits.