Armenian government adopts tougher new anti-smoking strategy
Armenian authorities are toughening anti-smoking measures: today, the government has adopted a new anti-smoking strategy, which aims to reduce the rate of smoking by 30-40%.
For that purpose, the Healthcare Ministry proposes to increase cigarette prices and ban smoking in public places.
Those who will permit smoking in public places will be imposed a fine of up to USD 10 000.
As Altunyan reported, the prices on cigarettes will increase 3-4 times, which implies that an average cigarette pack will cost AMD 1 000. A person smoking one pack of cigarettes per day (if he/she buys it for AMD 350) will have to spend AMD 30 000 (USD 60) on cigarettes per month instead of AMD 10 350 (USD 20).
However, not all people believe that the aforesaid restriction is going to reduce the number of smokers. According to Armen Pogosyan, a consumer rights advocate, Armenia hasn’t imposed anti-smoking bans for many years. On the contrary, it has actively been promoting this habit in every possible way.
Babken Tunyan, an economist, says that the introduction of the ban on smoking in cafés and restaurants is unlikely to reduce the number of smokers: people will keep doing it in the street or at home.
The smokers sharply criticized the proposed legislative amendments, terming them as a violation of individual rights. Some of the smokers stated that they will keep smoking anyway. As for non-smokers, they highly welcomed the aforesaid initiative, saying their health has been subjected to harm for many years, and that it’s high time to change the situation:
“The Armenian government’s new approach towards the tobacco issue has nothing to do with improving public health or promotion of a healthy lifestyle. They seek to top up the budget and increase the income of tobacco manufacturers and vendors.”
“We are Europeans, we are a European country… everybody says that. We should stop imitating them. No matter how much Armenians try, they will never be Europeans. Who are those people with earrings that are dictating laws to us, and why should we follow them?”
“The smokers do harm not only to their own health, but also to that of their family members, next of kin, friends, and to all those who are non-smokers. They do harm to their family income and serve as destructive role-models to their children.”
“Russia has urged Armenia to increase the prices, whereas our authorities have found a better way to do it. But they are doing everything in an ignorant manner. Instead of convincing people through public awareness campaigns of the harms associated with smoking, they just raise the prices so as not to offend their ‘Brother’.”
“People will start stealing cigarettes from tobacco sections in shops. Sharp price hikes will trigger some unbecoming actions on part of those who can’t quit smoking and who can’t afford to buy cigarettes.”