New law on cigarettes and tobacco coming into effect in Georgia

WHO/Nika Javelidze

Removing tobacco advertisements in Tbilisi, Georgia

On 1 May 2018 new tobacco control legislation comes into effect in Georgia. From this date enclosed public and workplaces are to be smoke free and advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco prohibited. Entry into force of further provisions of the law will gradually follow.

Next generation tobacco control law

In response to a high prevalence of tobacco use and related burden the Georgian Parliament significantly amended tobacco control regulations. Passed in May 2017, the new legislation is considered one of the strongest tobacco control laws in the WHO European Region.

This next generation tobacco control law includes the implementation of the following key provisions in 2018 and over the next few years:

  • prohibition on smoking (including e-cigarettes and hookah) in all enclosed public places, enclosed workplaces and public vehicles;
  • ban on advertisement, sponsorship and promotion of tobacco products;
  • ban on tobacco point-of-sale and retail display;
  • enforcement of health warnings covering 65% of smoking tobacco packaging and inclusion of an information leaflet with e-cigarettes;
  • enforcement of plain packaging of tobacco products;
  • protection of state tobacco control policy from interference by the tobacco industry and regulation of relations between the state and the industry;
  • classification of e-cigarettes with nicotine as a tobacco product;
  • ban on retail sales of tobacco products via the internet, mail and drive-in tobacco points.

The new law is the result of work over several years by national and international partners, including WHO and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). Key milestones along the way included the strengthening of the taxation system for tobacco in 2016 and the establishment of the Health Promotion and Prevention Board of the Parliamentary Health Care and Social Issues Committee, which coordinates the development and implementation of the consolidated action plan for law implementation.

Georgia’s ambitious target is to decrease tobacco use among people aged 18 years and older to 20% by 2030. In 2016, tobacco use in this age group stood at 31%.

Get free from tobacco smoke!

Under the slogan “Get free from tobacco smoke!”, the campaign to support the new tobacco control legislation was launched at the Georgian Parliament on 28 February 2018.

The campaign contributed to building understanding of the new law among the general public and businesses, to promote compliance before its implementation.

WHO’s behind the scenes support

In 2017, Georgia was selected for the FCTC 2030 project. The project aims to support parties to the WHO FCTC that are eligible to receive official development assistance to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by advancing implementation of the Convention. Georgia is the only party from the European Region.

WHO is also assisting as part of its biennial collaborative agreements with Georgia and has contributed to the implementation of the new law with some practical support such as:

  • technical assistance for development of sublegislative normative acts regarding health warnings, standardized packaging, protection of state tobacco control policy from interference by the tobacco industry and others;
  • development of a consolidated state action plan;
  • development and realization of a communication campaign;
  • a study visit to Romania by Georgian enforcement agencies;
  • preparation of guide for implementation of smoke free regulations;
  • training of trainers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and other stakeholders and enforcement agencies, and development of training modules for policemen;
  • coordination of multisectoral activities.

As part of the overall support, the WHO FCTC Secretariat in close collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), WHO and national partners (i.e. the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health) completed an investment case for tobacco control in Georgia. This was the first such investment case to be conducted globally. The results of the analysis were handed over to the national authorities on 27 February 2017.