RA Human Rights Defender considers problematic some regulations of the RA Draft Law on the Reduction and Prevention of Negative Effect of Tobacco Products Use.
Smoking is prohibited in closed areas and public places by the draft law. This provision entails that smoking is prohibited in all public places (outdoor or indoor), including in the street. In addition, the draft law does not specify exceptions, for example, regarding separated areas for smokers in entertainment facilities or similar places.
According to the draft law, the requirements for allocation and furnishing of smoking spaces in outdoor areas will be determined by the order of the authorized bodies, however the deadline for the adoption of this order is not provided.
Thus, it is proposed to introduce the so-called "absolute prohibition" of tobacco use. A study of international experience suggests that, for example, most European countries have reached the "absolute prohibition" of cigarette use gradually. Moreover, a number of European countries’ laws still provide the possibility of creating separate areas for smokers.
Taking into account the minimum wage in Armenia, the amount of fines imposed for violation of tobacco use rules is unacceptable. The RA Human Rights Defender Office has suggested the possibility of applying a "warning" as sanction, along with reducing the fines.
Another amendment suggests a fine of 800,000 AMD in cases of cigarette’s import if the allowed content of cigarette nicotine and tar had been exceeded. The sanction imposed by this provision is not only impermissible, but also excludes exceptions to the import of cigarettes for personal use. It can be concluded that, in the absence of such an exception, a fine may also be imposed for tobacco, which is imported to Armenia for personal use, but exceeds the permissible content of nicotine and tar.
The Office of the Human Rights Defender has presented its all comments on the draft law to the Ministry of Healthcare. In the new version of the draft law presented for public discussion, some of these comments were reflected in the draft law.
According to these recommendations, measures aimed at reducing and preventing smoking and the negative effect of smoke in the detention facilities, military units and military institutions will be carried out in the manner prescribed by the relevant bodies of the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Defense respectively.
Furthermore, smoking will be allowed in areas of historical and cultural monuments that are considered to be residential.