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Tobacco Breaks Hearts - Choose Health, not Tobacco

On May 30, press conference dedicated to World no Tobacco Day (May 31) took place at UN Armenia Office, organized by WHO Country Office in Armenia. 
The topics of discussion were the new tobacco control law in Armenia, the increase of cardiovascular diseases and strokes caused by smoking, the importance of no tobacco campaign for boosting economy, tourism, promoting demographic growth, as well as the role of raising public awareness for protecting present and future generations. 
The key note speakers were Egor Zaitsev, WHO Representative in Armenia, Shombi Sharp, UN Resident Coordinator in Armenia, Arsen Torosyan, Minister of Health of RA.

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“Don’t break your heart”
Public still largely unaware – smoking is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke 

Smokers are 2–4 times more likely than non-smokers to suffer coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular stroke, and even adults exposed to other people’s smoke have a 25–30% raised risk. On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day 2018, WHO is highlighting what can be done to reduce the risks to heart health posed by tobacco and how much difference it makes immediately if smokers choose to quit tobacco. “Tobacco breaks hearts – choose health, not tobacco.”

“People generally think that smoking is harmful, they are often unaware of its key link with heart disease and stroke. Tobacco is contributing to the increased incidence of chronic diseases and their fatalities and has a devastating impact on patients and their families,” said Dr Egor Zaitsev, WHO Representative in Armenia.  

The effects of giving up smoking can be seen almost immediately:

  • Within 20 minutes, the heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal.
  • Within 2–12 weeks, circulation improves and lung function increases.
  • A year after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker's.
  • Between 5 and 15 years after quitting, the stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker.
  • Fifteen years after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a person who never smoked. ​ 

Cardiovascular diseases: the leading cause of death across the world

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are disorders of the heart and blood vessels and include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and rheumatic heart disease. They kill 17.7 million people globally every year, which is a third of all deaths. Across the WHO European Region, where 28% of adults smoke, 46% of the 4.2 million smokers who died in 2015, died from CVDs.

Deaths from CVDs (both sexes, all ages) are nearly twice as high in the east (central Europe, Eastern Europe and central Asia) as in the western part of the Region, and most of them are avoidable deaths among men. In Armenia 51.5% of adult men are smokers and it is estimated that 47.3% from all deaths are connected with cardiovascular diseases. 

Measures to stop smoking reduce CVDs

Governments are conscious that reducing the use of tobacco has a positive effect not only on the health of the population, but on the economics and health services of the country .

Armenia has already taken various measures since 2004, after joining the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, but more efforts needed to be done in the future as well.

The policy measures which are increasingly being adopted by countries of the European Region in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are proven to make a major difference to CVDs. The measures include increasing excise taxes and prices on tobacco products; introducing plain/standardized packaging and/or large graphic health warnings on all tobacco packaging; enforcing comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; eliminating exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke in all indoor workplaces, public places and public transport; and running effective mass media campaigns that inform the public about the harms of smoking/tobacco use and second-hand smoke.