Alina Altymysheva, the World Health Organization in Kyrgyzstan, a national staff member, cited the measures taken in Turkmenistan as an example of successful tobacco control.
According to her, best practice was gained in Turkmenistan due to active intersectoral cooperation, increased tobacco taxes, and active propaganda campaign, as the head of state, among other things, has a medical background and understands the importance of these measures.
The national staff member of the WHO said that the current economic cost of NCDs (noncommunicable diseases) due to the tobacco smoking to the Kyrgyzstan economy is 17 billion som per year, which is equivalent to 4% of the country’s annual gross domestic product. Public actions to prevent NCDs in Kyrgyzstan are just “the tip of the iceberg” referring to the loss to the economy due to labour productivity losses, Altymysheva emphasized.
At the Intersectoral Meeting to discuss the draft National Program on Tobacco Control, Altymysheva said that there is no non-smoking areas in many cafes in Kyrgyzstan. “Even in the coffee house opposite the Ministry of Health, there is no smoke-free area. It is a violation of human rights,” she said.
According to Altymysheva, Kyrgyzstan can still do more, if deal with risk factors. “That is, if you reach those who are not sick yet, but those who smoke, drink, do not have five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, eat salty food and do not have time for physical activity,” she said.
It is worth to note that Turkmenistan was recognized by international expert community as a leading choice in the world on tobacco control. The country has set a goal to become tobacco-free by 2025, and it supported financially a Tobacco-Free Europe Project.
Tobacco control in Turkmenistan has a solid legal framework. Production, import, distribution, use of nas as well as smoking in public places are prohibited in the country.
In 2011, Turkmenistan ratified the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Same year, with the assistance of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, a National Action Plan on Tobacco Control for 2012-2016 was developed. In 2013, Law on Protecting the Health of Citizens from the Effects of Tobacco Smoke and the Consequences of Tobacco Product Consumption has come into force in Turkmenistan.
As representatives of the WHO marked, for the past years the level of distribution of smoking among the senior generation of citizens of the country has has significantly decreased, and currently, the country has the lowest smoking rate in the WHO’s European region.
The WHO twice praised the personal contribution of President of Turkmenistan to combat of distribution of tobacco use, in 2014 and in 2016, when Berdimuhamedov received special awards of WHO.