The Union has worked in Europe since 2006, providing grants and technical support to organisations working on tobacco control activities through the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use (BI) Grants Program.
Ukraine is a BI Grants Program priority country, but The Union also supports other countries in the region.
The Union’s work in Europe has led to major tobacco control policy achievements, including:
- Supported by The Union since 2007, Ukraine has made significant progress in tobacco control over the past decade. Between 2010 and 2020, the country had a 20 percent reduction in smoking prevalence; significantly raised excise taxes on cigarette packs; and made significant progress in adapting and implementing the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which it became a party to in 2006.
- In February 2020, the Armenian Parliament voted in favour of a comprehensive tobacco control law. Among its most important measures, the law enacts a ban on indoor smoking in all public places (cafes and restaurants), workplaces, and public transport; it places a total ban on tobacco product advertisements, sponsorship and promotion; and mandates plain packaging. The law imposes strict fines for violations. During the period leading to implementation, The Union continued to support the Ministry of Health and other partners countering significant tobacco industry opposition and pushback. Read more.
- In Turkey, The Union’s grantee, The Health Institute, played a key role in successfully reforming the country’s Tobacco Control Law, ensuring the advent of new plain packaging requirements. Announced in December, the regulation mandates that manufacturers adhere to specific criteria—cigarette packs must be devoid of logos, graphics and other branding that appeals to vulnerable groups, like young people. To further disincentivise smoking, the plain packs are required to devote 85 percent of their real estate to graphic health warnings and imagery and must also include the number for a smoking cessation hotline. Sale of branded cigarette packs must, according to the new regulation, end by early January 2020.
- The Union provided support to grantees in Georgia to develop the Tobacco Control Group at the NCDC, the main public health entity working to strengthen tobacco control (2015). Union grantees also developed the State Tobacco Control Strategy of Georgia and the Action Plan for 2021-2025. Additionally, a legislative act on tobacco industry interference in accordance with Article 5.3 was developed. Union grantees facilitated the 'New Generation' tobacco control legislation (2017), which introduced a series of advanced measures—a complete ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; restriction on smoking in movies, shows and public performances; making all public places smoke-free and banning tobacco vending machines; and introducing advanced regulations on tobacco packaging and labelling, including large pictorial health warnings and standardised packaging and regulations.
- In Russia, Union grantees worked to remove tobacco industry-sponsored youth smoking-prevention programmes in schools. In 2014, The Union also provided support to form a Smoke-free Cities Alliance in 10 regions in Russia. Overall, grantees helped improve the monitoring capacity of MOH and increased sensitisation on smoking and its harms among the public.
- Union grantees in Poland worked to sensitise government officials on tobacco industry interference and the important of establishing and enforcing an Article 5.3 policy. A Smoke-free Poland Partnership was formed with technical assistance provided by The Union, bringing together over 20 public institutions and NGOs to strengthen smoke-free regulations in Poland.