Tobacco Control Program


The tobacco control is another key focus of the Center and a cornerstone of ICHD’s activities since 2001. Smoking rate is traditionally very high in Armenia. About one third of Armenian adults are regular smokers. Over half of Armenian men and 3-4% of women are daily smokers. Yet, female smoking is believed to be underreported. About 3,000 deaths of smokers at the age of 35-69 years in Armenia are due to diseases caused by smoking: about 85% of patients with the lung cancer were men. The smoking prevalence is rather high among the adolescents: over one third of boys smoke and over 80% of young population is exposed to secondhand smoke regularly.

The accession of Armenia to the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004, triggered elaboration and adoption of stricter legislation and policies on tobacco control.  However, the tobacco industry lobbying is very strong in Armenia. Both local producers and importers of tobacco products are directly represented in the National Assembly of Armenia and thus, have critical influence on the policies on tobacco control in the country. Indicatively, the local tobacco industry has successfully shelled the significant tax increase equally for all types of locally produced and imported tobacco products in 2008. The tobacco smuggling volumes are estimated to constitute from 15.6% to 18.5% of the total consumption of tobacco products.  In this situation the role of civil society becomes critical in ensuring the continuous and effective advocacy for enhanced tobacco control in Armenia.

ICHD is a leading organization with its 12 projects in this area. The economic impact of stronger tobacco control policies were in particular focus of the Center. The ICHD was the key player in lobbying for Armenia’s accession to the FCTC and in recent increase of tobacco taxes. Two key ICHD associates represented the EURO region respectively in FCTC protocols on Illicit Tobacco Trade and in Tobacco Farming. ICHD has produced a number of publications and conducted the first ever comprehensive nationwide smoking prevalence survey in Armenia. The Center is a member to Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) and Coalition for Tobacco Free Armenia (CTFA). The ICHD operates a unique Tobacco Control web portal at

ICHD has conducted the evaluation of the impact of tobacco control policies on employment in 2001. It is widely recognized that a reduction in tobacco use can lead to a smaller tobacco industry, which in turn can affect, in both desirable and undesirable ways, the profile of job opportunities in the country. This is why ICHD, as a part of the public health community, initiated the assessment of the employment dimension of tobacco control measures as an argument in its evidence-based advocacy to reduce tobacco use. ICHD experts have estimated the possible impact of tobacco control on employment. The evaluation report has been provided to the policy makers. It became an evidence based instrument both in the hands of advocates for stricter control and for experts and policy makers engaged in formulating more effective policies. Juxtaposed with the arguments of the tobacco industry, the evaluation proved the overall negative impact on the economically active population and employment profile in Armenia and justified the need for a stricter tobacco control.

ICHD has continually shared its experience with other civil society organizations working for enhanced tobacco control in the countries around the world, in Eastern and Central Europe region, and in post Soviet in particular. Starting March 2002, ICHD experts participate in various seminars and conferences that aim at building capacity of such organizations and sharing experiences in anti-tobacco work.

ICHD has also continually focused on growing its own institutional capacities in this area. Supported by the American Cancer Society, ICHD has substantially enhanced its Health Unit capacity providing it with equipment and materials and turning it into a fully-fledged operational unit prepared to face the challenges of advocacy and policy advice on tobacco control in Armenia in 2003. The ICHD’s Health Unit has, firstly, focused on promoting a negative attitude among young women and men towards smoking and raising their awareness of opportunities for tobacco-free life by delivering anti-tobacco messages to the public. For this purpose Unit engaged in anti-smoking campaign through disseminating print materials among young people at educational and public institutions, clinics and restaurants.

Recognizing that contesting the strong tobacco industry lobbying in Armenia is possible only through effective coalitions, ICHD has launched an initiative of promoting the collaboration among various civil society institutions and forging a coalition to shape public demand for stronger tobacco control policies in Armenia in late 2003. In the seminar in September 2003, ICHD put-up strategic partnerships, particularly with the American University of Armenia, the Yerevan State Medical University, a number of local organizations, as well as the Alcohol and Drug Information Center of Kiev.

In early 2004, ICHD extended its program agenda directly engaging the decision makers, increasing their awareness of the issue and strengthening the capacities of the policy makers and preparing grounds for the ratification of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control 2003 (FCTC) by the Armenian parliament. Supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), ICHD has essentially boosted the advocacy for the ratification of the FCTC. The economic research conducted by the ICHD’s Health Unit became an effective tool in this process providing the rationale and design of the advocacy activities by the anti-tobacco community in Armenia.



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