31-05-2010 First Conference on “Tobacco or Health” in Armenia

To celebrate the World No Tobacco Day, the Yerevan State Medical University (YSMU) and the American University of Armenia (AUA) convened the first “Tobacco or Health” Conference in Armenia on May 31, 2010. This was organized in response to the Petition from the group of physicians and public health professionals submitted to the Ministers of Health and Education and Science and Rector of the Yerevan State Medical University at the 2009 Armenian Medical World Congress in New York.

The Conference brought together medical and public health students, faculty, clinicians, public health professionals from Armenia and Diaspora as well as international experts to discuss the mounting evidence on health hazards of smoking and health professional’s responsibility in countering the smoking epidemic in Armenia . This event was organized within the framework of the Yerevan State Medical University 90 th anniversary celebration.

The leaders of two universities Dr. Gohar Kyalyan and Dr. Haroutune Armenian made opening remarks, and the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Health Dr. Ara Babloyan and the Advisor to the Minister of Health Mr. Suren Krmoyan welcomed the participants of the Conference.

Dr. Kyalyan emphasized the vital role that health professionals play in delivering the truth about smoking addiction to the society as the number one preventable cause of death: “It is high time to start respecting ourselves and to be proud of being healthy…”

Dr. Armenian highlighted: “Twentieth century medicine had its major emphasis on prevention of diseases; 21 st century medicine will be the century where we build health”. He called the participants, medical students, physicians and other health professionals to quit smoking now: “You are our nation’s health leaders, therefore you cannot smoke”.

The conference covered public health and policy aspects of tobacco use, benefits of smoke-free hospitals, emphasized the evidence that tobacco is a major risk factor for many deadly diseases and the need for smoking cessation interventions in Armenia. World known experts in tobacco control Dr. Frances Stillman, Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Global Tobacco Control, and Dr. Gregory Connolly, Chair of the Division of Public Health Practice at the Harvard School of Public Health (video address) shared their experience with the conference participants and suggested ways to make smoking history in Armenia .

The Organizing Committee of the 1 st “Tobacco or Health” Conference [which included professionals from YSMU, AUA, and the RA Ministry of Health] developed a conference resolution on future strategies of smoking prevention and control by health professionals emphasizing smoke-free hospitals, integration of tobacco control education in the medical curriculum, and endorsement of smoking cessation guidelines.

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