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A ban in Georgia on smoking in public spaces has been delayed for one year, and will now come into force from 1 May 2018, the author of the package of amendments told journalists on 2 May.
Guguli Maghradze, an MP from the ruling Georgian Dream, said that parliament and the government had reached an agreement to delay enforcement of the new regulations.
‘We also agreed to allow smoking in casinos and “smoking-bars” if they obtain the proper license’, Maghradze remarked.
She said that she is negotiating with hotels to arrange non-smoking rooms from 1 January 2018, with 20% of rooms remaining for smokers.
Maghradze suggested banning smoking in offices from 1 September 2017, as they do not need time to make preparations for the ban.
The World Health Organisation and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) held a joint press-conference on 2 May in support of the draft amendments.
‘The economic productivity losses from tobacco use are approximately ₾455 million ($187 million) annually (86% of the total burden), while health-care expenditures on tobacco-related disease is ₾73.5 million ($30 million) (14% of the total)’, reads the statement issued by UN office in Georgia, adding that if Georgia implemented the proposed package of amendments, it could save about ₾27 million ($11 million) a year.
‘Case studies from other countries in the region indicate that a total ban on smoking in restaurants and bars is likely to have a neutral to positive impact on revenue for the hospitality sector in the short- to medium-term. Employment gains are more likely for this sector than job losses’, the statement continues.
They also claim that tobacco costs the Georgian economy roughly 2% of GDP every year.
According to the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Drugs, in 2015, 43% of children under 16 had smoked at least once. The figure is higher among boys (54%) than in girls (30%).
Twelve percent of Georgian schoolchildren are regular smokers, with 4% of schoolchildren claiming to have began smoking before turning 13.
According to the NCDC, 11,000 people die in Georgia every year due to smoking tobacco. The World Health Organisation puts the global death toll from smoking at around 6 million people every year.