Belarus reaches key milestones in tobacco control

On 21–30 June 2019, Belarus hosted the 2nd European Games. This year, the Games were declared a tobacco-free event. WHO provided technical assistance to the organizers of this important initiative through the WHO Country Office in Belarus.

Leveraging this momentum, the President of Belarus approved new legislation prohibiting smoking in all closed public spaces. The new presidential decree will come into effect on 27 July 2019.

“This is an important step toward the better health and well-being of the people of Belarus,” said WHO Representative and Head of the WHO Country Office in Belarus Dr Batyr Berdyklychev. "WHO estimates that implementing this measure in Belarus will contribute to a 15% reduction in smoking prevalence and save 116 000 lives in the coming 40 years.”

The new law will address some of the gaps left by previous legislation. It does this by regulating electronic cigarettes in the same way as regular tobacco products, and by banning smoking in cafés, restaurants, hotel rooms and on long-distance trains.

Healthy games

In recognition of WHO’s support to this year’s European Games, the Government of Belarus invited Acting WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Piroska Östlin to the closing ceremony on 30 June.

“The tobacco-free European Games and the upcoming passage of the presidential decree on prohibiting smoking in all closed public spaces are extremely important milestones that show the tangible impact of our work at the country level,” said Dr Östlin. “It is crucial that we maintain momentum on tobacco control, and the progress made so far shows that countries can turn the tide on this public health issue.”