Historic moment for Republic of Moldova: ban on smoking in enclosed public places enters into force
On 31 May 2016, a full ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces entered into force in the Republic of Moldova. This important public health success was achieved after years of work by national specialists and international experts on the national programme for tobacco control, and a series of amendments to laws regarding tobacco control, in line with the provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and its guidelines.
After almost 2 years of debates, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova endorsed the Tobacco Control Law on 29 May 2015. This extensive law has been introduced gradually: starting on 1 January 2016 with the enforcement of bans on the advertising and promotion of tobacco products, followed by provisions for a full ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces.
The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the WHO Country Office in the Republic of Moldova held a press conference to mark the occasion of World No Tobacco Day and the enforcement of legislation for smoke-free enclosed public places.
Ruxanda Glavan, Minister of Health, said, "It is a historic day to start together, step by step, to undertake concrete measures to take the health of the population to another level. The Republic of Moldova's annual costs for tobacco-related diseases are 880 million lei. Estimations of the economic costs and the value of lost productivity due to premature death, disabilities, hospitalizations and outpatient treatment of diseases caused by smoking are about 1 billion Moldovan lei. These data should concern us all and make us accountable – to show respect for the law."
Large support for tobacco-control law
The Ministry of Health and National Centre for Public Health organized a series of events to support tobacco control and legislation on smoke-free public places:
- roundtable discussion for journalists to explain the provisions of the law and its implementation mechanisms;
- flash mobs in Chisinau and other cities to promote the new provisions of the law, including distribution of materials, no-smoking signs and stickers such as "smoke-free public places";
- visits to restaurants and bars by high-level officials, including the Deputy Prime Minister, Gheorghe Brega; members of Parliament; the Minister of Health and deputy health ministers; and
- presentation of the WHO World No Tobacco Day 2016 award to Oxana Domenti, Head of the Parliamentary Committee for Social Protection, Health and Family.
Smoking is prohibited:
- in all enclosed and semi-enclosed public places, including common areas at work, regardless of the type of property and means of access;
- in all open public spaces managed by health-care institutions, educational institutions, and local and central public authorities, including adjacent managed territories;
- within 10 m of entrances to enclosed public places (including places of common use) and operable windows and air ventilation systems at places of work;
- in parks and playgrounds for children;
- in stadiums, arenas, squares and other public spaces open during public events or other entertainment;
- under the roof of public transport stations; and
- in public transport and in private transport carrying children under 18 years of age.
A WHO STEPwise approach to surveillance (STEPS) survey in 2013 (1) reported that smokers comprise one quarter (25.3%) of the adult population of the Republic of Moldova. The share of male smokers (43.6%) is much higher than that of female smokers (5.6%).
Every fifth teenager (every tenth girl and one third of boys) has smoked at some time; 16.8% of 17-year-olds are smoking (2).
In the context of World No Tobacco Day, an awareness campaign on tobacco and alcohol control was launched in Tiraspol on 30 May 2016. The campaign will include 2 stages: dissemination of information materials – such as video and audio spots, brochures and posters – and billboards promoting anti-smoking messages; and the organization of community events – involving specialists, medical students, volunteers, the media and youth – to promote smoking cessation.