Belarus against tobacco for World No Tobacco Day

UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Belarus/Victor Radivinovski

From left: Egor Zaitsev (Head of the WHO Country Office in Belarus), Olga Bartman (Republican Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health) and Violetta Brezovskaya (Ministry of Trade) took part in a press conference marking World No Tobacco Day in Belarus.

As part of its work to implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the Ministry of Health of Belarus conducted a national information and education campaign, called "Belarus against tobacco", between 11 and 31 May 2015. 

Culminating in World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, the campaign activities included:

  • a national exhibition "World of Sports and Health" in Minsk, with specialists from the health care system providing information on healthy lifestyles and addiction prevention; 
  • "open information" days, with consultations on quitting smoking; 
  • hot lines for help in preventing tobacco smoking;
  • thematic public events, including markets and dancing;
  • lessons on health, competitions and drawing and poster exhibitions on healthy lifestyles and sports events at educational institutions (schools, technical schools, universities); and
  • a song, "No smoking project", with various musical styles and trends (pop rock, remix, dance pop and acoustics) to engage young people and help them feel united in thinking about leading a healthy lifestyle.

New requirements for tobacco packaging announced at press conference 

At a press conference at the National Press Centre of Belarus on 28 May, Dr Olga Bartman, Head of the Public Health Department, Republican Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health, announced that, from May 2016, new regulations on tobacco products would enter into force in Belarus. These will include requirements for tobacco packaging that are in line with FCTC recommendations; thus, each package must have warnings on the harm of smoking, with images and text that will cover 50% of both the upper front and the lower back sides of a package. 

Dr Egor Zaitsev, Head, WHO Country Office in Belarus, said that illicit trade in tobacco products is an issue for the European Region as a whole, and countries must work together to solve the problem. On behalf of WHO, he called on Belarus to ratify the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

The results of the sample survey of living standards in households, conducted in Belarus in 2013, showed that the prevalence of current smoking among people aged 16 years and older was 48.6% among males, 9.7% among females and 25.9% overall.