By Narmina Mammadova
Fatos Hande Harmanci, representative of the World Health Organization in Azerbaijan said, that tobacco use remains a serious problem all over the world.
“Unfortunately, there are also many tobacco users in Azerbaijan”, she said.
She noted that about 1.3 million people use tobacco in Azerbaijan.
"Half of the people who use tobacco in the country die before the age of 70. Therefore, it is crucial to fight seriously in order to prevent tobacco use. The most important step in this regard is to increase the price of tobacco, since the cigarette prices in Azerbaijan is very cheap. Increase in prices can relatively prevent young people from smoking," she noted.
The WHO representative added that at the same time, it is necessary to reduce tobacco advertising.
"Cigarettes are available for sale in stores, big markets. It is possible to provide a closed sale of cigarettes, or change cigarette packs. I regard the law passed last year in the country as approvable," she added.
Harmanci considers that if tobacco control measures are not taken, the number of smokers will increase steadily.
"Entrepreneurs dealing with tobacco trade want to earn more. My observations show that youth are more interested in using cigarettes or hookah in Baku. I would like to note that smoking a hookah for an hour is comparable to smoking 40 cigarettes," she said.
Earlier, country manager of the World Bank (WB) Naveed Hassan Naqvi repeatedly made proposals to the Azerbaijani government to increase excise taxes on tobacco products and thereby, raising prices, to limit the population’s access to cigarettes. In his opinion, this will increase revenues to the state budget, and will positively affect the health of the nation, limiting the number of smokers.
The Azerbaijani government heard calls from the WB experts and increased excise taxes on manufactured tobacco products in the country.
Smoking is common throughout the world, and getting people out of tobacco dependence today is becoming a priority for many states.
Smoking is recognized as a chronic disease and included in the "International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems". There are more than 25 diseases that develop or their course worsens under the influence of smoking.
Smoking is being prohibited as it is decreed that smokers’ habits are setting a bad example to others, particularly children. Also, active smokers can estimate the harm of tobacco on their health and decide whether to smoke or not, but those who are passive smokers had no choice here and passive smoking is more harmful for human body than active smoking.
At the same time Azerbaijan adopted the law “On Restriction of the Use of Tobacco Products” in December 2017, which is a part of “Azerbaijan National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases 2015-2020”, as the country cares about its citizens’ wellbeing.
Smoking prohibitions already exist in such countries as the U.S., Finland, Ukraine, Great Britain, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Germany, France, Belgium, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Syria, Egypt etc.
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