Tobacco Free Armenia
On March 2, 2007, the American University of Armenia hosted the 2nd National Meeting of the Coalition for Tobacco Free Armenia (http://www.tobaccofreearmenia.am). The Coalition was formed in June 11, 2004 and is a voluntary union of 25 NGOs. This meeting was dedicated to the second anniversary of the adoption of the Law on Tobacco Realization, Consumption and Usage Limitations in the Republic of Armenia and the ratification of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
The last few years were a time of tangible changes in tobacco control legislation and public movement. The main purpose of the meeting was to report on the activities of the Coalition for Tobacco Free Armenia and to discuss the role of civil society in future enhancement of tobacco control policies. Dr. Haroutune Armenian, the President of American University of Armenia, and Dr. Artavazd Vanyan, Chief of Sanitary Epidemiological Control Department greeted the 2nd National Meeting participants.
Dr. Armenian mentioned that adoption of the Law was just the first step. He was confident that it was important not only to strive for European standards in tobacco control but also to demonstrate leadership to go beyond: “The spirit of leadership and pioneering is what we need to ensure the smoke free future of Armenia.” Dr. Vanyan mentioned that legislative changes alone could not be enough to change the situation in general; he emphasized the important role of NGOs.
During the 2nd National Meeting, 22 organizations participated in the NGO anti-tobacco exhibition demonstrating their anti-smoking posters, fliers, educational materials, calendars, children’s pictures, as well as social ads on healthy lifestyle.
With support from the Open Society Institute, the Armenian Public Health Alliance (ArmPHA, a union between Armenian Public Health Association, Armenian Public Health Union and the American University of Armenia) published a brochure summarizing thirty anti-smoking programs implemented by 23 NGOs in Armenia in 2004-2006. This was the first attempt to collect and present to the public comprehensive information on anti-smoking programs implemented in Armenia. Narine Movsisyan, who leads the ArmPHA Tobacco Control Program, said that this initiative aimed to increase the transparency in the field and effectiveness of future tobacco control programs.
As a part of this meeting, the American University of Armenia in close collaboration with the ArmPHA partners organized a workshop on Tobacco Control Policy with support from the Open Society Institute. The key speakers of the workshop were Suren Krmoyan, Legal Adviser to the Minister of Health, Alexander Bazarchyan, Tobacco Control Program Coordinator of the Ministry of Health, and Elinar Vardanyan, Executive Director of Center for Public Dialogue and Development. Participation of NGOs from Ararat, Vanadzor, Goris and Gyumri significantly enriched the meeting and the workshop.