Evaluation of the compliance with the smoke-free ban in dining areas of Yerevan, Armenia
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Turpanjian College of Health Sciences, American University of Armenia, Yerevan, Armenia
Publication date: 2023-04-25
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2023;9(Supplement):A100
Armenia has an alarmingly high smoking rate among men (53.4%); the level of exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) in public places is also high.1,2 The comprehensive smoke-free ban in indoor and outdoor dining areas was enacted in March 2022. We aimed to evaluate the level of compliance with the ban at six months of its implementation.

Material and Methods:
We utilized mixed-methods approach with qualitative observations and quantitative air quality monitoring of PM2.5 particles in selected dining areas of the capital city. We visited 24 indoor and outdoor areas in 19 hospitality venues from eight districts (total 11) of Yerevan. The observations were done using standardized forms and the measurements of the real-time PM2.5 particles were done using TSI SidePak AM520 following the standard protocol. We used Stata13 and TrakPro5 for the analysis and graphical representation of collected data.

Active smoking was observed in the half of the visited venues, of which 16.7% (n=2) were indoor and 83.3% (n=10) were outdoor areas. In 41.7% (n=5) of outdoor facilities, ashtrays and cigarette butts were observed. The “No smoking” signs were posted in 29.2% (n=7) while the penalty signs only in 8.3% (n=2) of all visited venues. The conventional cigarettes were the most common tobacco products used in 45.8% of visited venues (n=11), followed by electronic cigarettes in 16.7% (n=4, indoor), waterpipe in 8.3% (n=2, indoor and outdoor), and heated tobacco products in 4.2% (n=1, outdoor) of visited venues. The average concentration of PM2.5 was 60.4μg/m3 (ranging from 28.7μg/m3 to 173.2μg/m3) which was significantly higher the recommended level by almost 2.5 times. In areas where a waterpipe was used, the average PM2.5 level reached 1,620μg/m3.

The study demonstrates insufficient level of compliance with the ban with worse practices in the outdoor areas. Stronger enforcement mechanisms as well as awareness-raising efforts are needed to support the implementation of the ban.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.
Armenia STEPS Survey 2016-2017: Fact Sheet. Accessed September 11, 2019.
Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS), Armenia.; 2009.