Last week the parliament’s health committee took decision on revision of Tobacco Law. The issue is of the clause, under which smoking is banned along the whole perimeter of clinics and educational facilities.
Under the current regulations, smoking is banned on the territory of clinics and universities and it sets such serious sanctions as stripping clinics of licenses. Experts and nongovernmental organizations expressed their negative attitude to this regulation from the first stage of the bill discussions, because, on the one hand, it is difficult to enforce this regulation and, on the other hand, it set serious problems to other facilities.
However, the bill comprises many other defects, which have created serious problems to the private sector. For example, the bill lacks for economic analysis and it dooms part of businesses to bankruptcy, while another party faced problems and turned out in noncompetitive condition. The issue is of subparagraph E of article 10 of Tobacco Law, under which exceptions are made for casinos and smoking is barred in all other gambling facilities. As a result, a number of gamble game facilities have turned out in uncompetitive condition. Moreover, no economic analysis was provided for legislative regulation, under which, smoking is permitted in the so-called cigar bars, which are only several ones all over Georgia, while smoking was barred in Chilim bars. The mentioned decision set unequal conditions for various businesses and doomed tens of chilim bars for bankruptcy.
Technical drawbacks in the law also create serious problems to the private sector. For example, the Georgian legislation has determined 9 signs of pictographs and obliges companies to indicate them on tobacco products, which are sold on the domestic market. Since free trade outlets the so-called Duty Free outlets are located on the territory of Georgia, the mentioned regulation apply to the mentioned outlets too. The Duty Free products are for visitors leaving the country and these products cannot get within the country. Many countries has made exceptions for Duty Free spaces and the existing regulations do not apply to tobacco products for domestic sales and do not apply to Duty Free outlets.
Major tobacco manufacturing companies differentiate a distribution of tobacco products on domestic market from distribution of tobacco products in sales outlets. Consequently, companies use different pictographs for Duty Free network, but the Tobacco law enforced in May does not enable this and this factor creates serious problems to business. Similar problems arose in other countries too, but unlike Georgia, they made changes to the bill before its adoption.
It is also very important that the most part of interpretations in the tobacco Law do not comply with EU instructions for Tobacco Products and this is categorically unacceptable for EU statute, which obliges all signing countries to implement EU Tobacco Control Law without changes.
The mentioned information was unveiled by Association of Young Financiers and Businessmen (AYFB). Under AYFB research, Tobacco Law mismatches 36 EU regulations of 39 ones and the organization expresses indignation regarding the law defects and urges Government of Georgia and Business Ombudsman’s Office to show interest in these legislative drawbacks.