The Experts’ Take on Ayo!’s Breathe Freely project


“Although the Armenian population is relatively aware about the harmful effects of tobacco smoking, recent surveys show that their knowledge of second-hand smoking is very poor. In addition, there is a lack of public trust in the state agencies and their public campaigns.

Hence, I believe that this kind of grassroots projects would have a direct impact on behavioral change; the murals have a very clear and targeted message both for adults and, most importantly, children. The art is very relevant to the Armenian context, and it really makes you rethink your bad habits and their unintended negative impact.”

Samvel Grigoryan, MPH, Young healthcare systems еxpert, Armenia’s Ministry of Health

“This up-to-date project is interesting and creative, and could possibly contribute to change as part of a larger scale project. In order to have valuable impact, many other projects should be implemented simultaneously (e.g. raise the prices of cigarettes, enforce restrictions, etc.).

I would suggest your team involve the same artists in a series of inspirational videos or support them in leading thematic discussions among their peers or school-age adolescents.”

Manya Karapetyan, MPH, Child Protection Officer, Armenian Association of Social Workers


“It is good that youth is targeted in this project, as they are the main ‘wanderers’ of the city and see these murals more frequently.

In addition, this movement might enhance the power of street art as a way of expressing public messages in general.

I would suggest expanding the scope of this project by including all major universities in Armenia. Also, it would be effective to have these kinds of murals in front of cafes and other public smoking areas.”

Tamara Simonyan, MPH, Pharmacist


“The idea of a reminder about the harms of smoking using fine arts is an interesting and novel strategy to fight this major, life-threatening habit. The policy of putting unpleasant images on cigarette packs has already proved its effectiveness. Similarly, it is expected that street-art reminders will also affect people’s minds, even subconsciously, and reduce their desire to smoke.”

Tatevik Hovakimyan, MD, MPH, Clinical Arrhythmologist, Cardiologist, Nork-Marash Medical Center

To see all the images from the project click here