"Tobacco Regulation should be Extended to Heated Tobacco, There will be No Retreat on this Issue"
Giorgi Bakhturidze, the head of the Tobacco Control Alliance, is against the liberalization of new tobacco products during their sale.
As he told the "business partner", the legislative proposal to simplify the sale of new tobacco products serves the interests of specific businesses.
"The legislative proposal of the Business Association is not new. In the two and a half years since the effective law on tobacco control came into force, they have been trying to violate the basic essence of this law and have been doing so deliberately. This initiative was first proposed by "European Georgia" in the previous parliament. They lobbied for the ideas of "Philip Morris", but they fell into the ashes and the parliament did not approve them. Then there were 2 more attempts and the health committee of course in the interests of public health and then the whole parliament refused to meet the interests of a particular business. Now it is the fourth attempt and during the fourth attempt, unfortunately, the name of the European Union is misused, as if the 2014 directive does not regulate this product, which is what we are talking about and there are no strict regulations. How would it be when in 2014 such product didn't exist at all. I do not want to name a specific brand now, so that we don't advertise it, we are talking about a heated tobacco product, the main goal of which to promote the brand. Therefore, they demand that the promotion of specific products be allowed in trade outlets, ”said Giorgi Bakhturidze.
The legislative proposal initiated by the Parliament also envisages the permissibility of selling tobacco accessories and/or equipment intended for tobacco consumption via the Internet or by mail, regardless of whether they are a trademark and/or name of the products of persons involved in the tobacco industry. In this regard, Giorgi Bakhturidze says that this promotes a lethal product.
"They want both accessories and products to be sold online, as well as devices in shops. That is, the boxes should be advertised. Box design is part of marketing. This, of course, promotes this lethal product, ”said Giorgi Bakhturidze.
He said that neither new tobacco products nor heated tobacco products are harm reduction products and they, like conventional tobacco, have a negative impact on human health.
"As far as health damage is concerned, WHO said in 2020, based on scientific research already agreed, that it is neither a means of quitting, nor a harm-reduction product, nor less harmful than any other tobacco product. It is a common tobacco product, releasing both carcinogens and toxins, and at the same time, in addition to the toxins found in ordinary tobacco smoke, there are also toxins of unknown origin, the effects of which may be more harmful to health. WHO, as well as the Secretariat of the Framework Convention, therefore call on all countries to at least regulate heated tobacco products in the same way as conventional tobacco controls. With us, this problem was removed in 2017, when the law was changed, heated tobacco was added to the list of tobacco products. Accordingly, all regulations that apply to ordinary tobacco apply to heated tobacco. Therefore, no retreat, no liberalization in this regard will be implemented, it is categorically unacceptable, because it will violate the framework of this effective law, "- said Giorgi Bakhturidze.
Giorgi Bakhturidze calls "Philip Morris" a representative of the criminal business and accuses them of corrupt deals with politicians.
"Opposition parties have moved intensively to the ruling team, but I hope they will not be fooled by the tricks aimed at promoting a particular brand. Whoever becomes the popularizer of this particular brand from the ruling team, it means that he has entered into a corrupt deal with the tobacco industry. This industry has a specially allocated black budget.
"We have a strong suspicion that such deals have begun, which will be determined by the investigative bodies, which have the authority to clarify these relations between specific politicians, public officials and this particular business," - said the head of the Tobacco Control Alliance.
Giorgi Bakhturidze says that the government had an obligation to approve a special normative act that would ensure transparency of meetings between the tobacco industry and public officials, politicians.
"Neither the governments of Giorgi Kvirikashvili, nor Mamuka Bakhtadze, nor Giorgi Gakharia have approved this document, despite the fact that everything has been agreed. Now, Irakli Gharibashvili's government was called by the parliament two months ago with an official resolution to adopt this document in time, which will make these backstage relations and cooperation with the criminal tobacco business open with serious risks of corruption," Giorgi Bakhturidze said.