Arsen Torosyan

Health Ministry Seeks Indoor Smoking Ban in Armenia


YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia’s Ministry of Health has called for a blanket ban on smoking in cafes, restaurants and all other indoor public places in the country.

A relevant bill drafted by the ministry was sent to the Armenian government for discussion and approval earlier this week.

Health Minister Arsen Torosyan is actively promoting the initiative on his Twitter page. “The time has come!!!” Torosyan wrote on Wednesday, February 6.

“From now on I won’t visit any restaurant or cafe in Armenia that allows indoor smoking until our new tobacco control law is adopted,” he tweeted in English on Thursday. “I will also promote all restaurants that voluntarily prohibit smoking NOW!”

Torosyan attached to that tweet a selfie with Environment Minister Erik Grigoryan. The two men were pictured in a rare smoke-free restaurant in Yerevan.

Armenia is a nation of heavy smokers with few restrictions on tobacco sales and use. According to Ministry of Health estimates, 55 percent of Armenian men are regular smokers. Medics blame this for a high incidence of lung cancer among them.

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The smoking rate among Armenian women is much lower: 3 percent. But in Yerevan an estimated 10 percent of women aged between 30 and 40 are tobacco addicts.

Armenian authorities have already attempted to curb smoking in the past. A law that came into force in 2005 banned tobacco in hospitals, cultural and educational institutions and public buses.

Additional restrictions introduced a year later required other entities, including bars and restaurants, to allow smoking only in special secluded areas. But with no legal sanctions put in place against their violation, those measures proved largely ineffectual.

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