By Atom Markarian
The Armenian government approved on Thursday a bill imposing a total ban on televised advertising of cigarettes and strong alcoholic drinks, citing their growing consumption and the resulting negative effects on people’s health.
The draft legislation, which will be sent to the parliament this month, would also restrict the appearance of tobacco and alcohol advertisements in the print media. In particular, newspapers and magazines would not be allowed to print them on their front and back pages.
In addition, all local media would be prohibited from broadcasting or publishing ads featuring Armenian celebrities and portraying tobacco and alcohol as a “means for achieving public success.”
“The flood of adverts which we are witnessing today…led us to decide that they should be strictly limited by law,” Health Minister Ararat Mkrtchian told reporters after a cabinet session. “Smoking and drinking has become more widespread among teenagers and young women. This is particularly alarming.”
The health ministry, which is the principal author of the draft law, says the unrestricted commercial promotion of cigarettes, vodka, wine and other drinks has resulted in a higher incidence of cancer and heart disease among Armenians.
The proposed law could significantly cut advertising revenues of Armenian television stations that get a large part of their commercial orders from tobacco firms and wineries. But it will place virtually no restrictions on street billboards promoting tobacco and alcoholic products.