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Turpanjian College of Health Sciences Attends 9th European Conference on Tobacco or Health

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YEREVAN, Armenia — Researchers from the Avedisian Onanian Center for Health Services Research and Development (CHSR) of the Turpanjian College of Health Sciences (CHS) of the American University of Armenia (AUA), Zhanna Sargsyan (MPH ’18), Zaruhi Grigoryan (MPH ’15), and Adena Alahverdian (MPH ’22) participated in the 9th European Conference on Tobacco or Health (ECToH) held on April 26-28 in Madrid, Spain.

The ECToH is a public health event organized in Europe every three years under the umbrella of the European Cancer League. This year, the conference was hosted by the Spanish Association Against Cancer and the Spanish Committee on Tobacco Prevention. The conference evolved around the main goal of having a Tobacco-Free Generation by 2040 set by the European Union, calling for a multidisciplinary approach against tobacco through the engagement of youth, researchers, policy-makers, civil society, health professionals, and the media. 

During the conference, the CHS team delivered oral and poster presentations on research studies conducted within CHSR: Association between pro-tobacco and anti-tobacco media and messaging exposure and support for smoke-free policy among adults in Armenia and Georgia presented by Sargsyan and Evaluation of the compliance with the smoke-free ban in dining areas of Yerevan, Armenia presented by Grigoryan. Sargsyan’s and Grigoryan’s attendance was made possible through AUA’s 2023 Professional Development Program . 

Alahverdian’s presentation on Evaluation of the National Quitline Service in Armenia was based on her master’s thesis project which explored the experiences of tobacco cessation quitline users and put forth recommendations for improving the cessation service in Armenia. In the context of youth mobilization efforts, Alahverdian received a travel grant from the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention (ENSP), a long-time partner of CHS. As an ENSP Youth Group member, she has been involved in youth activities, including co-chairing several poster presentation events and evaluating posters.

In addition to the main conference, the team was engaged in activities related to CHS’s collaboration with ENSP, such as the ENSP Youth Group meeting dedicated to finalization of the group strategy and presentation on #TobaccoFreeAdventCalendar: Development, Implementation and Process Evaluation of a multinational project initiated and created by youth — a digital campaign implemented in four countries, including Armenia. Disseminated mainly through social media using a youth-engaging approach, the campaign aimed to inform about the health and environmental harms of tobacco and encourage youth to join tobacco control initiatives. In total, the English, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, and Armenian versions of the calendar were accessed 3,459 times and the daily doors were opened 1,567 times. The Armenian version also was quite successful and was accessed 947 times, and the doors were opened 456 times. The rate of the opened doors over the accessed links in Armenia was (48%),second after Spain’s 51%. This set a good example of multinational collaboration among young leaders engaged in tobacco control as part of the long term partnership between CHS with ENSP.

The conference’s major takeaway as shared by the participating CHS researchers is that “it’s time to act now to protect children and future generations from the tobacco epidemic, and youths have a crucial role in creating their own tobacco-free future.”

 The AUA Turpanjian College of Health Sciences works actively to improve population health and health services in Armenia and the region through interdisciplinary education and development of health professionals to be leaders in public health, nursing, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.