Anti-smoking Rally Held in Tbilisi

TBILISI – Tobacco Control Alliance organized an anti-smoking rally in Tbilisi on March 26th, demanding to ban tobacco advertising, as well as smoking in bars, restaurants, cafes and public transport.

The protest rally was dedicated to ‘Georgia without Tobacco’ day which is held every year on March 29th. The rally participants had gas masks on their faces.

According to research by the National Center for Disease Control, 11 000 people die in Georgia from smoking-related diseases every year and 3 000 people as a result of second-hand smoking.

Students, members of the old Georgian martial arts ‘Shavparosnebi’ and the Center for Disease Control took part in the protest aimed to remind the government obligations under WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which bans tobacco propaganda and smoking in the closed areas.

The head of the Tobacco Control Alliance, Giorgi Bakhturidze stated that until 2011 Georgia had an obligation under the Convention to prohibit all forms of advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco. These obligations still are not fulfilled because high-ranking officials are protecting the tobacco industry.

“I'll say it directly, the tobacco industry has bribed high-ranking officials, including politicians. There is no agency, where the tobacco industry does not have its own support,” Bakhturidze stated, “We demand a quick discussion of the bill, a new law, with its flexible administration mechanism, the penalty sanctions and the person in charge who will actually enforce the law.”

According to Bakhturidze, survey data conducted in recent years shows that 80% of the population supports banning smoking in workplaces and enclosed buildings. The Alliance plans meeting in Parliament and the Ministry of Health in the near future.

By Ana Akhalaia

Edited by Chloe Diamond

30 March 2016 15:42