Today, October 2, 2023, in the premises of Hotel Rogner, Tirana, "Parliamentary Club for the Young" of the Assembly (Parliament) of Albania, chaired by the head of this group, MP Mrs. Andia Ulliri, organized a round table with deputies from different political forces, institutional actors from the government, such as the Ministry of Finance and Economy, international organizations, such as WHO, UNICEF, experts, relevant interest groups and the media, regarding the framework of the measures of tobacco prevention and control with a focus on youth.
DSA (Development Solutions Associates) experts presented the findings of studies highlighting the high levels of smoking in the country, especially among young people, where more than 50% of male aged 25-34 use tobacco, as well as the main regulatory and social factors that affect initiation and prevention of smoking among adolescents and young adults.
The experts highlighted that smoking is the main risk factor for the main non-communicable diseases, and on the main consequences on the health and economy of Albanian households (health releated costs were presented too), where smoking is attributed to thousands of premature deaths every year, while its consumption sinks to the poverty level about 13,000 Albanian families with 60,000 members from these 10,000 children, while for poor families it deepens the level of poverty.
Among the main reasons for starting and smoking among young people in Albania, the fiscal control regime that determines the price and affordability of tobacco products, especially among youth, the family and social environment, the role of the media in promoting or discouraging were brought to attention. of tobacco consumption, as well as the role of awareness and education of the population and young people on its health, social and economic consequences.
Key expert recommendations for reducing current prevalence and curbing adolescent and youth smoking included:
- The increase in excise duty on tobacco and its products his , and consequently the price, in accordance with the rate of inflation, the countries of the region and the requirements of the EU acquis;
- The fight against tobacco and cigarette smuggling, including the ratification of the Protocol for the Elimination of Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products .
- Strengthening the implementation of Law no. 9636, dated 06.11.2006 "On the protection of health from tobacco products ", especially restrictions on smoking in public places, sales restrictions to minors, etc. through the intensification of inspections and sanctions.
- Improvements and harmonization in other sectoral laws such as the one on public health, pre-university education, audiovisual media, etc., with a focus on education and awareness and not promoting harmful role-models in television programs.
After the presentations about the findings of the studies, discussions were held by the participants.
- MP Mr. Petrit Vasili congratulated the experts for the findings of the studies that were presented and emphasized the importance of raising awareness about the harm that tobacco consumption brings as a very important measure to reduce tobacco consumption.
- MP Mrs. Andia Ulliri emphasized the importance of controlling the consumption and sale of tobacco, especially in relation to minors and school premises. Ms. Ulliri appreciated the importance of these studies and their discussion with policy-makers.
- MP Mr. Bardhyl Kollcaku stated that it is very important to make it difficult and discourage the consumption of tobacco, making it more expensive through taxes, and limiting consumption in public spaces, but also addressing regulatory aspects of the promotion of wrong models in television programs.
- MP Mr. Arbi Agalliu emphasized the importance of any fiscal intervention taking informality and applicability into consideration, since often policies or legal initiatives are oriented towards the interests of certain groups, as well as the importance of strengthening the regulatory framework with a focus on young people.
- Ms. Geraldine McWeeney ( WHO representative) confirmed the importance of the findings of the studies and the priority that the fight against tobacco consumption has for WHO.
- Ms. Mariana Bukli, UNICEF Albania specialist for children's health and nutrition issues, agreed with the findings presented and emphasized the need for a child-centered approach, and the early prevention of their involvement in smoking, through regulatory measures and awareness programs.