Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability and death all over the world. The World Health Organization estimates that around 700 million or almost half of the world’s children breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke. In Armenia, children are widely exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS) at homes and in public places. According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey 2009, seven out of ten schoolchildren in Armenia were exposed to SHS in their homes, and eight out of ten in public places.
The College of Health Sciences (CHS) of the American University of Armenia responded to the request from the Boghossian Gardens for cooperation in creating an outdoor smoke-free playground in the park. Together with the Coalition for Tobacco Free Armenia and DJ Vakcina, they launched the first smoke free playground in Yerevan on the occasion of the World No Tobacco Day, May 31.
The children from the neighboring kindergarten and the students from the AUA Experimental English Classes Program joined the visitors of the Lover’s park to celebrate World No Tobacco Day.
Twelve year old Mariam Chalabyan and nine year old Meline Tadevosyan were delighted to unveil a No-Smoking Sign. Arusik Vakcina who is not only well-known and popular DJ but also a dedicated healthy lifestyle advocate, was happy to present her DJ set. Adults and children enjoyed the joyful and festive atmosphere of the event.
Dr. Arusyak Harutyunyan, Research Associate/Program Coordinator at the CHS/AUA and Coordinator of the Coalition for Tobacco Free Armenia stated that this playground may serve a precedent for other outdoor places to become smoke-free.
The CHS/AUA staff, faculty, and the MPH students organized different games and activities for children and distributed informational leaflets on the health hazards of smoking and secondhand smoke among the visitors of the Lovers’ Park.
The event was widely covered by TV, radio, and on-line media.