United Arab Emirates (UAE) - protect your next generation - your children..

May 17, 2010 - Dr Hanan Obaid, head of the ‘Tobacco Free Dubai’ campaign, said her team fromhave spent the past year visiting schools across the emirate to talk to children about the dangers of smoking. She said they have been shocked to find teenagers - many of whom do not even smoke - exhibiting nicotine withdrawal symptoms. “Parents are to blame for this. The students are showing withdrawal symptoms as if they were addicted to cigarettes,” she said. “We advise parents never to smoke at home.” She said the pupils, in years seven to 12, came from homes where their parents smoked so they were subjected to passive smoking. The situation, particularly prevalent in girls, makes the youngsters restless and unable to concentrate in class.

Obaid is now urging parents to quit smoking for the sake of their children. And she hopes that shocking images of organs ravaged by the effects of tobacco will help deter people from picking up the habit.

The images are soon to start appearing on cigarette packets across the UAE, although a specific date has yet to be released. Obaid hopes the images, along with other measures due to be introduced, will cut the number of smokers in the UAE by 30 percent.

According to World Health Organisation statistics, one in five Emirati men currently smoke, although less than one percent of women use tobacco. But, among young people, the figure is more alarming. Figures last year showed 29 per cent of boys aged between 13 and 15 smoked as did more than 13 percent of girls of the same age.

Obaid is currently working on a detailed report about the full extent of smoking in Dubai, which will be released later this month (May 2010).

In recent years, there has been a big effort in the UAE to deter people from smoking. It is already banned at a number of public places in Dubai, including shopping malls, government departments, restaurants and also recreational facilities. And Obaid, who is passionate about her job, said new anti-smoking legislation about to come into force will curb the habit further.

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan approved federal law No.15 of 2009 in January, and officials are currently putting the finishing touches to it. (UAE - Khalifa issues federal anti-tobacco law..) Among the measures it brings in is a ban on importing of tobacco products unless they met specific standards.

UAE - smokers face tighter restrictions coming September 2010..

More information: Togehrer for a Society Free From Tobacco..

Reference: Quit or the kid gets it, Fareed Rahman (aeareed.rahman@7days.ae), 7Days, 5/16/2010.

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