Excessive tobacco consumption is an important public health policy issue. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), 32% of the adult population in Georgia smoked tobacco in 2019 (WHO, 2021). The prevalence of smoking in men was 56.9 percent – the fourth in the world and first in Europe.
It is World No Tobacco Day – a yearly celebration that “informs the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what the World Health Organization (WHO) is doing to fight against the use of tobacco.” This year’s theme is “Commit to quit”, and if you are a smoker you can find useful information on the WHO webpage devoted to ending smoking.
Smoking and passive smoking are some of the main problems for public health in Georgia. According to the WHO, 29.9% of adults in Georgia smoked tobacco in 2017. Smoking prevalence among males was 54.6% – fifth in the world and first in Europe. A study by UNDP suggests that about 0.4% of the adult population of Georgia die annually from tobacco-related diseases and the estimated total annual economic costs of smoking account for 2.4% of GDP.
On November 19, ISET was visited by Mr. Alan Fuchs of the World Bank Group, whose presentation, 'Taxing Tobacco in Georgia: The welfare and distributional gains of quitting smoking’, delved into the welfare and distributional impact of increasing taxes on tobacco in Georgia.
On May 17, 2017, the Georgian government adopted amendments to the Tobacco Control Law with 85 votes in favor and only one against. This highly debated new regulation, which bans smoking in public places, was initiated by Parliament member Ms. Guguli Maghradze who just recently discussed the obesity problem in Georgia, which is caused partly by excess sugar consumption.