‘Do Not Surrender! Stay Free of Tobacco!’
09 February, 2012

Recently, a terrible announcement has been on air that daily 8 persons are dying due to the passive smoking. This has awakened a keen interest in us, urging  to investigate  the ‘tobacco situation’  in Georgia, which seems to be highlighted by the First Lady with her initiative “Don’t Worry, Be Healthy” and other respective organizations.  
Puppets with trustworthy looks, called Nick and Nutsa tell us about the said catastrophic number of mortality. Where does the main problem lie? Is the

situation that serious?
The project set up by the European Union is implemented by National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia and Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Implementation and Monitoring Center in Georgia. It’s been five years since the country has joined the convention. Under the current project, the latter has printed booklets and leaflets that are addressed to the parents of schoolchildren in order to inform them about the actual harm of tobacco and prevent them from starting smoking. One of the slogans is: ‘Do not surrender to tobacco, Stay Free!’
Giorgi Bakhturidze, Director of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Implementation and Monitoring Center in Georgia, thinks that tobacco business is one of the most criminalized spheres in Georgia. “So many millions are spent on bringing tourists to Georgia. But they don’t understand that enhancing tobacco business and smoking will prevent them from coming here. Many foreigners have complaints that they have to smell the smoke of cigarettes everywhere. It  is a real discomfort for them.”

However, according to Article 10 of the law on tobacco control, smoking is prohibited at the childcare, educational and childcare-educational institutions, medical and pharmaceutical facilities, at the entire area of petrol, gas and gas-distribution stations, in public transport, indoor areas of work and mass gathering, also in trains and ships, except specially designated smoking areas. But it turns out that the only issue of the law ratified a year ago is being fulfilled and that is  point B of Article 4 about the compulsory warning inscription on the tobacco product that has drastically increased recently. Gigi Tsereteli, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Health protection and Social Issues admits that tobacco industry is a very complicated sphere and it is very difficult to fight against it. ‘The framework convention obliges all its member countries; however, each country adopts these obligations considering the local situation. I have recently met with the representatives of the World Health Organization and we have covered the issue of raising the excise on cigarettes in Georgia. I must tell you that people argue: only tobacco costs cheap and you prohibit us to buy it? We don’t prohibit because the law acknowledges the rights of smokers and non-smokers fifty-the fifty. But we have to tell them anyway that the cheaper the cigarettes are, the worse their quality is. I can tell you that for instance, here cigarettes are three times cheaper than in Great Britain, because there excise-duty is high. Secondly, sanctions should by all means become stricter. Here, you can buy tobacco anywhere while in most countries there are only special shops for it and therefore, controlling its sales is much easier. And of course, it will enable us to prevent school children from starting smoking,’ Gigi Tsereteli told Georgian Journal.

The recommendation of Giorgi Bakhturidze is that special educational programs for kids must be enacted to better inform them about the harm of smoking. Unfortunately, for Georgians smoking has not become a non-prestigious habit as yet. Moreover, women think smoking makes them look attractive. ‘The surveys prove that it is much easier to influence men than women, as it is a matter of showing off.” Unfortunately, the number of female smokers is increasing. However, smoking during pregnancy is particularly dangerous. It causes mortality of new-born babies, also increases the risk of abortion, increases risk of complications during birth-giving. It  also instigates bearing of premature and less than normal-sized babies. “Moreover, there is a predisposition in the body of the baby whose mother was smoking during pregnancy that he/she will become a smoker too,” Mr. Bakhturidze adds. 
According to the head of the Tobacco Control Center, smoking in Georgia is also dangerous because here prices are low and the quality of tobacco is very low too. The harm of tobacco is enhanced by the fact that there are many cases of unlicensed cigarettes, or those that were destined to be destroyed. Purportedly, there are imports from Brazil that are genetically modified, to say nothing about some chemical additives. ‘Due to this reality, if previously tobacco consuming was killing a man in 25 years, now only 15 years are enough. Moreover, the dependence on tobacco is stronger today because of its chemical composition,’ Bakhturidze said.
However, the priority for the Tobacco Control Center is to prevent kids from starting smoking. It is clearly written in the informative booklets that children’s lungs and entire bodies hindered from developing well and therefore, it is particularly dangerous for them to smell the poisoning substances. Unfortunately, not all parents realize it and they smoke in the presence of their kids. Of course, tobacco business is a business too and its bosses will do their best to sell as many cigarettes as possible. The beautiful designs are particularly attractive for women. However, the Center of tobacco control warns us that kids who are passive smokers face a higher risk of becoming sick with pneumonia, bronchitis and other lung diseases. They are also inclined to become ill with asthma, and what is of utmost importance, the likelihood of becoming ill with cancer is two times higher among the kids of smoker parents.
National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia works for enhancing the issues connected with human health and for the propaganda of healthy lifestyle. Working against smoking seems to be one of its priorities.  Lela Sturua, Head of the Division of non-communicable Disease of the Center says that the number of people dying of direct and indirect causes of tobacco is very high. “Speaking of indirect causes, I mean cardiovascular  diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic diseases of lungs. If we manage to reduce the total consuming of tobacco within the country, this will automatically mean the reduction of these diseases and correspondingly, mortality.” 
According to the survey of 2010, conducted by STEPS, 27.7% of the total population are current everyday smokers, 30.3% are current smokers. Out of the first datum, 51.1% prove to be men and only 4% are women. However, the specialists think that there still exists stigma against the smoker women and therefore, in spite of the fact that the survey is anonymous, women don’t seem to be very sincere in some cases. The average number of fags a day is 19,5 – 14 fags per female and 20 per male smoker a day.

The mortality rate is very high and varies from 8 to 11 thousand per year. The average age of commencing smoking is 18 among men and 23 among women. “However, it does not seem real either, as there are many children smoking in the public schools,” says Ms. Sturua.  ‘If we talk about the chronic diseases that come from tobacco consuming, 91% people of the total mortality rate of Georgia comes on them.”  
It is a problem that in spite of the very nice-written legislation, rights of non-smokers are very poorly preserved in Georgia. Notably, second-hand (passive) smokers prove to have the identical organic problems as the smokers. “My recommendation is that smoking must be totally banned in hospitals and other medical organizations as well as in schools. However, surveys show that there are plenty of cases of not only the children’s smoking but also the teachers’ smoking. As for the medical sphere, it proves to be one of the strongest smoker professions in Georgia,” says Lela Sturua and adds that fortunately, the state is more active in this direction and there are preconditions that the smoking and non-smoking zones will soon be strictly defined in public places. “Ordinary people too begin to realize the real harm of tobacco. It is worth mentioning that 20-40% of abrupt mortality among children is their being passive smokers.”

Notably, as the US seems to more or less have combated smoking, there don’t practically exist organizations in which it is permitted to smoke and its employees have to walk several meters and smoke there. ‘These are the conditions that enhance less smoking, and if these are conditions with us, which are quite rare, Georgians too smoke much less than usual.” Maia Grigolia proves it. She was a current everyday smoker. For some period, she had got a job at one of the international organizations where smoking was banned. “I hardly smoked even one cigarette a day, as it was very discomforting for me to leave the comfort and go outside and freeze for the sake of smoking. Therefore, my smoking was radically reduced,” she says.     
According to another survey conducted among 16-year-old adolescents, 16% are current everyday smokers, 30% begin to smoke from 13 years of age or even earlier and out of them, and 5% are current everyday smokers. 10% have already tasted cigarettes before the age of 9.” The number of male smokers seems to be high but stable when the number of female smokers is increasing.  
Some of the main recommendations for smoker parents: to never send their children to buy tobacco, to keep away boxes of cigarettes from their reach, not to smoke in their presence and try to show them that you are going to give it up.

In conclusion, the tobacco situation in Georgia is quite worrying but comparing to the situation in the world where only 26 countries, representing 8.8% of the world- population, have comprehensive national bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; where 27% of the world’s population live in countries that do not ban free distribution of tobacco products; where only 21 countries, representing 6.2% of the world’s population, have tobacco tax rates greater than 75% of the retail price; where tobacco tax revenues are 173 times higher than spending on tobacco control; is promising as well.

Other Stories
Cleopatra’s Elixir of Beauty and Health
Interview with hirudotherapist Tamar Sharia

Nowadays, there are many alternative forms of medical care. Some people believe in pharmacology, while others prefer phytotherapy or homeopathy. Our guest today is a self-taught hirudotherapist who saved her own life, found a new formula of life and beauty and now has the will to help others, just like any other doctor. Meet Ms. Tamar Sharia who confides to us that at the age of 50, she lost 30 kilos and has noticed that her hair is starting to become black again.
There was no system in healthcare
The Minister told Georgian Journal that certain steps are being taking, including the dismissal of less-qualified staff, to make the Ministry circles coordinated. Sergeenko also stresses that very soon it will be harder for doctors to get a license. When addressing healthcare issues, it is often stated that the system should ensure protection of the people. What was the system like when you became minister? There was no system at all. I am trying to create the system. Well, it does not mean that nothing was done previously. There was a range of different projects. However, a system means a mechanism that works in coordination. There were diffusive, poorly linked circles in the ministry without any effective management.
European Antibiotic Awareness Day
Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC&PH) have organized the first observance in Georgia of European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) with World Health Organization (WHO) support.
Interview with Healthcare Minister Davit Sergeenko

There are assumptions that portfolios of some ministers may have new owners; Davit Sergeenko, Healthcare Minister can become one of the Ex (the interview took place before names of candidates for ministerial posts got known). We spoke with him.
lives are too bitter to be eaten right off of the tree and must be cured to reduce their intrinsic bitterness. It has a good taste and is very good for our health.
Water is not just a thirst quencher!

Water is fundamental to life, including the human body. In fact, the average adult is about 70% water, and so is our planet. Drinking water helps maintain the balance of body fluids. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.

Honey, please bring me some honey!
Honey has a long history of human consumption, and is used in various foods as a sweetener and for flavouring. Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharide (simplest form of sugar that are usually colourless, water-soluble, crystalline solids) fructose and glucose, and has the same relative sweetness as the granulated sugar. Honey contains flavanoids (group of oxygen containing aromatic antioxidant compounds that includes many common pigments) and antioxidants (molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules), which help reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer and heart disease.
TEA – why so popular?
As a medicinal drink, tea must have originated in China in the 16th century. Later, Great Brittan had embraced it who introduced tea to India to compete with the Chinese monopoly on tea. Thanks to its positive health benefits, tea became more and more popular. It is a proven fact that green tea can resist the risk of cardiovascular disease, certain forms of cancer, promote oral health, reduce blood pressure, help with weight control, improve antibacterial and antivirus activity and increase bone mineral density. It may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.
Start summer with colorful citruses

Citruses support health immune system and reduce cancer risk, reduce anemia, prevent osteoporosis, and asthma. Orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime and tangerine – all of them might be broken up into two categories: bitter or sweet. So, when buying them, you have to be careful to please your pallet. In the 9th century citruses were introduced into Europe, and after that it spread all over the world. Today, citrus fruit is one of the most consumed kinds of a fruit on the planet.

Obesity and Diabetes
Obesity is an ongoing worldwide issue that every nation is subjected to. According to the World Health Organization, it has doubled in its prevalence since 1980. With the United States leading the list of the countries with the highest obesity rates, one may wonder where Georgia stands. But just because we slather our Churchxela(s) in sweet syrup, doesn’t mean we should sugarcoat the truth.
‘A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg’
The most common egg is the hen’s egg, though duck, goose and other fowl eggs are available for consumption in some areas too. The color of the yolk depends on the hen’s diet. Wheat-fed hens will have darker yolks than hens fed by other grasses.
Nothing fishy in fishy dietary!
Researchers worldwide have discovered that eating fish regularly – one or two servings weekly – may reduce the risk of diseases accompanying us from the very childhood of ours. Fish is low in fat and it is a great source of omega-3 (an unsaturated fatty acid that occurs naturally in fish oil and is valuable in reducing blood-cholesterol levels). It can contribute to the health of brain tissue and the retina (the light sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye).
Society for Giorgi
Tbilisi concert hall in March 31 will host event where participates nearly all Georgian artistic society and this event has one reason to help Giorgi Korganashvili. Giorgi is an actor of Marjanishvili theatre who unexpectedly stumbled upon one of the hardest challenges of life – health problem. One month ago Giorgi was diagnosed aplastic anemia that made his friends organize all their moral forces to stand by him.
Donate and Save Lives of Others
Charity that showed a considerable mobilization of donors

Recently, with the mediation of Georgia Red Cross Society, Ilia University became a venue for voluntary blood donation. There are several special days, including the World Aids Day, International Volunteers Day and World Blood Donors Day, on which such charities are always conducted. However, it was a happy coincidence, when the wish to help the children ill with leukemia, came in accordance with the quantity of volunteers, which made it possible to hold the charity event.
Oncologists Ask Government to  Rescue Medical Sphere of Oncology

Oncologists of A. Gvamichava Oncology National Center have applied to Georgian medical society, the ministry of Labor, Health and Social Care, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and the government with an open letter asking to discuss with them and solve the problems the clinic and this sphere face recently. Head of the Gynecological  Department of  Oncology National Center, Professor Tengiz Charkviani specifies the matter:

 Philip Gordon – I’m Glad that in this Difficult Situation, Democratic Transformation Still occurs

Everything done for the democratic development of Georgia is important, US Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon told journalists after meeting chairperson of parliament Davit Usupashvili.

 Photo Journalists to Appeal to Prosecutor Demanding Reinvestigation

Photo Journalists Gia Abdaladze, Irakli Gedenidze and Zurab Kurtsikidze will file an appeal with the prosecutor’s office demanding a review and reinvestigation of their case.

 Shota Khizanishvil’s Office and house Searched Yesterday

The ffice of and house of the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and Vice Mayor Shota Khizanishvili was searched yesterday night by law enforcers.

 Former deputy minister of internal affairs being questioned at the Prosecutor’s Office

Shota Khizanishvili, former deputy minister of internal affairs, is being questioned at the Prosecutor’s Office, Khatuna Ochiauri, a member of the National Movement party, told InterpressNews.

 One minority and one majority parliamentary member to be allowed to visit Bacho Akhalaia in prison

One member of the parliamentary minority and one from the majority will be allowed to visit Bacho Akhalaia in prison.

Transparency International Calls on Parliament to Take Interest in Probable Conflict of Interests

Transparency International – Georgia calls on parliament of Georgia to be attentive to the cases of conflicts of interests.

 Givi Targamadze accused of funding clashes in Moscow

Russia's top investigative agency announced Monday that a government opponent has turned himself in and confessed to orchestrating riots, but the man and his supporters said he was kidnapped abroad, smuggled back to Russia and then tortured into confessing, Foxnews says.

 Director General of Georgian Railway resigns

Irakli Ezugbaia, director general of the Georgian Railway, has resigned.

IAGJ: The Media Must Be Freed from Political Ownership

The Independent Association of Georgian Journalists appeals to the new government to implement reforms in media ownership

With the handover of power the media market in Georgia is being redistributed among political groups, a process associated with the violation of journalists’ rights, closing down of television programmes, unfair dismissal from service and not paying of wages.

 I made a decision to leave Georgia, but I hope to return again – Dimitri Shashkin

Acting Minister of Defence Dimitri Shshkin has released an address to sergeants, corporals, soldiers, friends and colleagues on his Facebook page.

GEL Exchange Rate
Other Stories
A series of hard-hitting government adverts featuring people smoking cigarettes with a tumour growing from the end is being launched in England.
Addiction medicine specialists and Duke University experts warn that baby boomers are vulnerable to drug abuse.
GEL Exchange