June 10, 2010 - Egypt, the biggest Arab consumer of cigarettes, is beginning an attempt to ban smoking in public places. The percentages of smokers among the age brackets of 25-44 and 45-46 years of age are 46.1 percent and 48.9 percent respectively. 56.2 percent of people who smoke shisha (hookah, argileh nargile, hubble-bubble, water pipe, hooka, goza, meassel, sheesha) do so at home, with 35.9 percent smoking at coffee shops. Passive smoking is a widespread phenomenon, according to the report, which said that 80 percent of Egyptians are exposed to passive smoking (secondhand smoke, shs, environmental tobacco smoke, ets, sidestream, involuntary) on public transportation, at restaurants, and even in health care establishments. (Egypt - comprehensive data on adult smoking consumption..)
Alexandria is to be Egypt's first no smoking city, beginning with a ban on lighting up in government buildings. And Egypt is a nation of smokers with traditional shisha water pipes found in many coffee shops, and persuading Egyptians to quit will be a challenge. It is common to find people puffing at cigarettes on the train, in office, even in hospitals.
Now in Alexandria that is set to change. The local authorities first plan to enforce an existing law - one that is usually flouted - prohibiting smoking in government buildings. They say that within two years, the ban will be extended to include cafes.
Dr Hassan Salam from the University of Alexandria is heading the research. "Smoking in Egypt is very common, unfortunately. Out of every 10 men, four smoke and more and more women are smoking now. "The statistics show that Egyptians smoke about 19 billion cigarettes a year. It's a big public health problem."
Bans on smoking in public places have now been successfully introduced around the world. But officials admit it will be a particular challenge to force Egyptians to quit.
They hope new restrictions will at least make them cut back - and that Alexandria can set an example for the rest of the country.
Reference: VIDEO - Egypt introduces Alexandria smoking ban by Yolande Knell, BBC News, Cairo, 6/10/2010.
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