AUA SPH Researchers Co-Author Article on Tobacco Control

The American University of Armenia (AUA) is pleased to share that Varduhi Hayrumyan (MPH ‘16) and Zhanna Sargsyan (MPH ‘18), researchers from the Avedisian Onanian Center for Health Services Research and Development (CHSR) of the Turpanjian School of Public Health (SPH), have co-authored an article recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The journal is an interdisciplinary, internationally-ranked, peer-reviewed open access academic journal published online bimonthly.

The article is based on the project “Smoke-free air coalitions in Armenia and Georgia project: A community randomized trial” implemented in partnership with Emory University and with support from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center (FIC). The local partners are the National Institute of Health named after academician S. Avdalbekyan and the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ministry of Health. The project focuses on developing models that examine the impact and influence of local coalitions in promoting interventions for smoke-free policies and public health practices.

The article titled “Smokers’ and Nonsmokers’ Receptivity to Smoke-Free Policies and Pro- and Anti-Policy Messaging in Armenia and Georgia” examines the support for smoke-free policies that address cigarette and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and heated tobacco product (HTP), as well as the persuasiveness of pro- and anti-policy messaging in various locations. A match-pair group randomized, controlled trial in 28 municipalities was conducted in Armenia (n=705) and Georgia (n=751). Both countries have a high prevalence of tobacco use, especially among men.

The findings indicated that women, nonsmokers, and less frequent smokers who contemplate quitting were more supportive of cigarette smoke-free air policies. There were several differences between the countries in relation to the support for smoke-free air policies and the persuasiveness of different messaging strategies.

Overall, both Armenians and Georgians were found to be supportive of smoke-free policies, particularly in healthcare, religious, government and workplace settings, public transportation, schools, and vehicles carrying children. On average, Armenians reported less support for policies in several settings compared to Georgians, but those differences were not significant in multivariable analysis. This study was conducted in fall 2018, after Georgia ratified comprehensive legislation on tobacco control in 2017-2018, but before the Armenian National Assembly approved a similar legislative package in 2020.

In conclusion, the study underscores the importance of advocacy efforts that focus on the positive health impacts of smoke-free policies. Moreover, the article puts forth that campaigns to garner support for smoke-free air policies should stress individual rights to smoke-free air and health and should combat the use of nonsmoking sections by emphasizing their ineffectiveness.

The AUA Turpanjian School of Public Health works actively to improve population health and health services in Armenia and beyond through interdisciplinary education and development of public health professionals to be leaders in public health, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.