Ten months have passed since the law on tobacco control came into force in Georgia. From September 1, 2018, a new regulation for tobacco control was put into operation. And, according to lawmakers, things are going well and society has been ready to meet the changes.
The implementation of the law was preceded by large-scale surveys. 89% of society wanted to launch the Tobacco Control Law. Prior to enacting the law, Vera da Costa e Silva, the Head of Secretariat of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, visited Georgia on February 28, 2018 to support the ongoing processes. With the government, She discussed the status of fulfillment of obligations under the Tobacco Control Framework Convention.
“Before the entry into force of the regulations, we made preparations,” said Akaki Zoidze Chairman of the Healthcare and Social Issues Committee. “The recommendations of the ‘Assessment Mission of Enforcement needs of the Tobacco Control Framework Convention’ and ‘Study of Public attitudes towards a Tobacco Free Environment’ were particularly important”.
The main recommendations included: increased taxes on tobacco, which has been in force with success since 2013, when the price of filter cigarettes increased by 180% and of cigarettes without filters by 300%; 100% ban on tobacco smoking in all sealed places; ban of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; introduction of licenses; and development of optimal mechanisms of enforcement.
In the study of public attitudes towards an environment free of tobacco smoke, economic calculations were made based on data of international and national surveys. It was found that direct healthcare, as well as indirect fluctuations (premature deaths, costs related to smoking at work), amounted to 824.9 million GEL, which is 2.43% of the country’s annual GDP. With execution of the above law, in 15 years the country will have prevented 53,100 deaths in Georgia and reduced the total economic costs associated with tobacco by 3.6 billion GEL.
“From May 1, a new law on tobacco control was launched, according to which Georgia became the leading country in the region. The deaths caused by tobacco are 22% in Georgia and 10% worldwide. This is an alarming indicator. We must protect our citizens from tobacco smoke, especially children. It is empirically established that the enactment of such a law evidently reduces the harmful effects of tobacco. Studies show that the majority of citizens and businesses understood the law enforcement and were ready for it”, says Amiran Gamkrelidze, Head of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health.
Following the enactment of the law, there have been several checks on the implementation of the Law on Tobacco Control made at public and medical institutions. A group of legislative representatives visited several facilities without prior notice. The monitors checked the enclosed space, checked whether no smoking signs were displayed and talked to the personnel. They questioned security guards about how the enforcement of the law was going and where the smoking places were. In most of the inspected areas, violations were not observed; the signs of prohibition were not only in the building and yard but also displayed on the bins.
Law enforcement and information-recommendation visits to various public institutions are important for legislators and monitoring is carried out throughout the country, in all cities and regions of Georgia.
“We parliamentarians are ready to become monitors and without prior notice, in the form of enforcement of the Tobacco Control Law, to monitor closed premises and public buildings for no smoking signs and any evidence that smoking has taken place”, Zoidze said.
On May 17, 2017, the Parliament of Georgia confirmed the amendments to the Law on Tobacco Control and on July 26 last year, adopted the new edition of the Law. The implementation of the law is progressing gradually.
Tobacco Control Law in Georgia was launched on May 1, 2018, under which smoking is prohibited in buildings, public transport, educational establishments, cafes and bars aside from some exceptions. It became mandatory to place the rules connected to prohibition / restriction of smoking tobacco at all entrances and other visible places of a building’s territory, the relevant inscription and the sign on the ban on tobacco smoking.