House of Peoples of Federation BiH Parliament adopted on Thursday the draft of the new Law on tobacco control, taking a step further towards the adoption of the general Law on this matter, which will improve life conditions for citizens in the entire country.
“We are glad to see that the FBiH representatives in the House of Peoples, once again proved that they can work in the best interests of citizens and to identify issues that are of great importance for the benefit of every citizen”, announced the PROI Association, which strongly supports the new Law.
Adoption of the Draft means that citizens and organizations which have interest on this matter can contribute in public debates. The aim of this debates are possible corrections of the Draft and improvements according to public interest. Association PROI announced that they regret that delegates extend the public debates on 90 rather than 30 days. The problem with this period of time is that, as PROI representatives said, citizens want to see the new Law take effect as soon as possible.
Few days before the House of Peoples session, representatives of the tobacco industry were lobbying against some solutions in the Draft, which caused a reaction of the organization “Partnership for BiH smoke-free”, including the PROI Association, but also the reaction of many international non-governmental and public-health organizations.
“We already have a tobacco industry attempts to modify the law, especially in terms regarding separate rooms for smokers. Once again we stress that separate facilities are not sufficient protection from tobacco smoke. In addition, the introduction of these spaces would be very quickly proved to be economically questionable, having in mind the worldwide trend of the complete restriction of use of tobacco products in public places”, PROI Association stresses.
A day before the session, on the occasion of the World No Tobacco Day, Sarajevo hosted the Event Exhibition “Tobacco – a threat to development in BiH“ at the BiH Historical Museum.
Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Head of the EU Delegation to BiH and EU Special Representative in BiH emphasised the need to address the issue of tobacco control and the marking of this important date.
“Of course, we are not speaking about total ban of tobacco, we are speaking about control of use of this substance that is threat for health of all of us, which is a matter of public health, but also a batter of finance and development, not only in this country but in the complete region of the Western Balkans where smoking is still very popular”, Wigemark said.
He added that the new law in Federation BiH presents the possibility of effective tobacco control and needs to be protected from the tobacco industry lobby.
According to surveys tobacco and tobacco consumption annually take thousands of lives of BiH citizens. Only in the Federation BiH, three-quarters of all deaths from diseases are linked to diseases for which tobacco and exposure to tobacco smoke is one of the major risk factors.
“Our international obligations, and above all, the data on the prevalence of smoking and the diseases associated with smoking in the Federation BiH, make the urgency of adopting a new and effective law on the control and limited consumption of tobacco an imperative. The Federation BiH Ministry of Health will persist on this path, because it is one of the essential measures to protect and improve public health”, said Snjezana Bodnaruk, Secretary of the Ministry.
A day before, the Head of the World Health Organisation Office in BiH, together with the Head of the EU Delegation to BiH, the Ambassador of Switzerland in BiH and the Head of the World Bank Office in BiH directed an open letter to Members of the Parliament of the Federation BiH in support of the adoption of the Law on Tobacco Control.
The joint letter commends the FBiH Ministry of Health for preparing this law, and the FBiH Parliament for the positive steps taken in support of this important regulation. The letter welcomes the fact that the new law will be discussed at the upcoming session of the House of Peoples of the FBiH Parliament.
“The situation regarding tobacco consumption in BiH is worrying: the high prevalence of tobacco use is one of the key factors contributing to the rise of non-communicable diseases in the country. In the Federation BiH alone, data shows that 8,400 persons die annually from diseases attributed to tobacco smoking. Furthermore, the current legal situation in the Federation BiH falls short of full implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and is not harmonised with the EU legislation in this area”, stresses this diplomat group in the letter./IBNA