The United Nations Organization in Georgia states that the draft law initiated in the Parliament of Georgia on October 16, 2023, is harmful to public health and calls on the Parliament of Georgia not to approve the proposed changes.
Here is the full version of the announcement:
“The United Nations Organization in Georgia states that the bill initiated in the Parliament of Georgia on October 16, 2023, is harmful to public health. With the proposed changes, the standardized packaging regulations will not apply to heatable tobacco products, and the sale of tobacco products in the old packaging will be extended for another eight months. In addition, with the proposed change, information about the brand and options can be posted not only in the state language of Georgia but also in English.
“Protecting public health and implementing an effective tobacco control policy is paramount. Governments must act to protect public health policy from interference by the tobacco industry, according to Article 5(3) of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Adopting these changes prioritizes the financial interests of tobacco companies over the interests of public health.
“Almost a third of the adult population in Georgia, as well as a significant part of adolescents and young people, are tobacco users. Tobacco-related direct and indirect health care costs in the country in terms of premature mortality, disability, and workplace costs total more than 800 million GEL annually, with over 11,000 deaths. Changing this situation requires a long-term and strong implementation of a comprehensive and effective tobacco control policy. By adopting strong legislation on tobacco control in 2017, Georgia took a positive step, with the effective implementation of which the first results were obtained. However, to steadily decrease the rates of tobacco consumption and reduce its catastrophic impact, it is necessary to fully implement and further strengthen both the legislation on tobacco control and the state policy.
“Under the new tobacco control legislation, the standard packaging regulations were originally due to come into effect on 1 January 2018, but unfortunately, this clause has been delayed until 31 December 2022 and then again until 1 July 2024. This delay and other proposed changes are unjustified and further delay the benefits that plain packaging should bring.
“Today, many countries in Europe and around the world already use plain packaging as an effective tobacco control measure. This reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products, increases the effect of medical warnings, is less likely to mislead consumers, and ultimately reduces the rate of tobacco use.
“We urge the Parliament of Georgia not to approve the proposed changes and we hope that it will continue to implement the policies announced at the highest level in the field of health protection and tobacco control, as well as protect the legislation from the interests of the tobacco industry, including the implementation of standardized packaging of tobacco products.”