Anti-tobacco law in the Armenian Parliament will be considered by economic affairs committee instead of health and social affairs committee, and this is an attempt to ruin such an important bill, senior advisor to the National Institute of Health David Petrosyan told NEWS.am Medicine.
He said that chairman of the health and social affairs committee, who is a doctor, would not oppose the bill, and it would pass easily. Those opposing the measure are explaining the move by the need to clarify whether the bill may impact the economy.
Petrosyan noted that the same problem occurred in most of the countries where national anti-smoking strategies and laws were adopted. Representatives of the tobacco industry as a rule stood behind what was happening.
However, other countries opposed the actions of the tobacco lobby with dignity and enacted laws to preserve the health of their populations.
David Petrosyan recalled that Russian deputy health minister Tatyana Semenova during her visit to Armenia told her colleagues about Russia's experience in the fight against smoking and noted that restaurants and cafes do not suffer from smoking bans. The restaurants suffer no losses, and the example of Russia and Scotland where smoking is banned even in pubs, confirms this.
In neighboring Georgia, anti-tobacco law was also adopted in a tough environment, chairman of Georgian parliament’s health committee Akaki Zoidze said during his visit to Armenia.
They repeated the same phrases as it is being done in Armenia now. The emphasis was placed on possible economic problems. However, nothing terrible has happened since the law was adopted almost two years ago.
“I would like to appeal to the leadership of the parliament and to the deputies: in all countries without exception, attempts were made to prevent the adoption of the anti-tobacco law, and the tobacco industry always stood behind these attempts,” the doctor said. “The lobbyists of the tobacco industry among deputies and members of the government usually manage to easily figure out how to find out the motivation for their actions. Often it is about a bribe or links to the representatives of the tobacco industry.”
According to the doctor, it is difficult for him to imagine that someone in the parliament of Armenia can seriously believe that the anti-tobacco law can lead to economic problems, especially since no such problems have arisen in any country. If someone continues saying so, it will appear that he is a puppet of the tobacco industry, at least, this is a perception or the representatives of international organizations like the UN and WHO.
The doctor reiterated importance of anti-tobacco law for Armenia, as it will help save thousands of lives. Moreover, it will save a lot of money that you have to spend on treating diseases arising from active and passive smoking.
“I would like to believe that the law will be adopted very soon, and in a few years we will all be convinced that all our fears were in vain. We will also see and feel all the positive changes that this law will bring,” the doctor resumed.