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The News in Brief

Monday, April 25
Phone conversation held between UN Secretary General & Georgian Prime Minister

“Georgia is a good example for many countries,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a phone conversation with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvil.

According to the Governmental Administration, the UN Secretary General called the Georgian PM today and expressed regret over the sudden change in his agenda, due to which he had to cancel his visit to Georgia.

"Ban Ki-moon is ready to visit Georgia this year in order to familiarize with the country's democratic and economic reforms on the ground,” the Governmental Administration said.

“The UN Secretary General expressed readiness for further UN involvement in the Geneva talks, for which the Prime Minister of Georgia thanked him.”

Kvirikashvili expressed readiness to host Ban Ki-moon any time in Georgia.

Both sides expressed hope that the meeting will also be held within the framework of the UN General Assembly.

Georgia plans total ban on tobacco ads, other strict measures

The government of Georgia is preparing an anti-smoking bill. It is not yet known when the law will come into force.

Amiran Gamkrelidze, the head of the National Center for Disease Control, says he hopes that the new regulations will come into force from autumn.

He told DFWatch that the draft bill, which will have to be approved by Parliament, will make designated smoking areas obligatory before 2018.

He explains that the amendments will concern five laws. This includes amendments to laws concerning advertisements, as well as a complete ban advertisements for tobacco products. There will be a ‘radical’ increase in the fines for smoking in a no-smoking area. This fine is currently 20 lari, though it may be doubled or tripled.

Gamkreidze said the enforcement of the law is currently too weak, and the amendments will include measures to address this problem.

“Under the current laws, the Interior Ministry is obliged to monitor how the regulations of the law about tobacco control are followed in the country, but often the fine was symbolic, being just from five to 20 laris. If we consider that the MIA has lots of other, more important work to do, controlling tobacco has naturally not been a priority,” he told us.

He said that according to the draft, the control mechanism will be divided according to professional sector.

“For example, if the offence is in the healthcare system, the Health Ministry is obliged to monitor all tobacco-related activity. Restaurants and cafes will be monitored by another ministry, and so on.”

Stricter control of tobacco is part of a five-year plan which was approved by former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili in 2013 and concerns the years from 2013 to 2018.

By decree of Ivanishvili, the goal of this plan is to protect people, especially Georgia's youth, from the harmful effects of tobacco.

The decree also offers statistics which shows that tobacco kills about six million people around the world every year. More than 600,000 of them die from passive smoking. More than 1.2 billion people globally are addicted to smoking.

Georgia’s performance is one of the worst in Europe in this regard. According to the World Health Organization, from 9,000 to 11,000 people die of smoking every year in Georgia. About 3,000 of them die from passive smoking. In addition, a total of 10 billion cigarettes are sold annually (0.5 billion packs), which amounts to about 0.58 billion laris.

According to WHO’s 2010 study, 30.3 percent of Georgians smoke. 55.5 percent of men smoke and 4.8 percent of women.

A study conducted by NCDC with the support of the International Development Research Center of Canada showed that Georgia does not have proper legislation to restrict smoking.

The report says that 92 percent of shops and other outlets sell tobacco products. In 2 percent of cases, the tobacco is sold in the same section as children’s products, while 85 percent of facilities closer than 50 meters from a school sell tobacco.
(DF watch)

Second meeting of EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee scheduled

The second meeting of the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee will be held in the European Parliament on April 25-26.

As InterpressNews was told by the Parliament, the ten-member delegation, led by the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee Co-Chairman Zviad Kvachantiradze will leave for Brussels.

The session will be attended by government officials and representatives of EU institutions. Traditionally, Georgia EU relations, the implementation of the Association Agreement and other issues of common interests will be discussed at the session.

The committee sessions are held twice a year in Tbilisi and in Brussels. Final statements and recommendations are adopted at the sessions to promote the implementation of the Association Agreement.