June 1, 2010 - Marking the World No Tobacco Day, yesterday, Qatar kicked off a year long programme enhancing its drive against smoking. With at least 40 percent of the adult population and 22 percent of youngsters in Qatar being smokers, the rate is double the numbers in Europe.
An online survey has found that the people of Qatar want better enforcement and stricter tobacco control measures..
Tobacco use is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. It kills more than five million people a year – an average of one person every six seconds – and accounts for one in 10 adult deaths. Up to half of current users will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease. More than 80 percent of the one billion smokers worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest.
In Qatar, the annual smoking rate is more than 12,000 cigarettes per smoker, according to a national study. At least one billion cigarettes are used each year with a spending above $65m, here. Also the value of medical services provided for the treatment of diseases associated with smoking reached more than $150m, in addition to the government spending on service agencies responsible for monitoring imports of tobacco.
“Qatar’s anti-smoking activities are not just celebrations,” said Dr Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani, Director of Public Health Department at the Supreme Council of Health (SCH). “World No Tobacco Day is a strong start for a comprehensive year-long programme set by the tobacco control unit in Qatar. Controlling tobacco and its derivatives is just the first step into monitoring similar materials of its kind,” he said at the Supreme Council of Health symposium marking the anti-tobacco day.
The year-long programme will include awareness campaigns in government and educational institutions, clubs, religious centres, shopping malls and other public places.
Dr Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani: There will also be counselling for tobacco users on quitting. As part of the initiative, smokers will be guided directly to clinics to quit tobacco. It includes plans to host a number of workshops and training programmes for trainers.
The health inspectors and volunteers have been working hard to check smoking in public places and their hard work is becoming a success. Over the last five months they have done 829 visits, during which 650 violations had been registered,” he said. The events coincided with the ongoing campaign against smoking in public places, launched by the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) on March 18. A number of people had been fined for violating the provisions of the anti-tobacco law in the country, during raids conducted by the SCH inspectors at major shopping centres in the city. The seminar titled “girls and boys against smoking” focused on various aspects of smoking, with involvement of nationals and several expatriate communities.
Farida Al Obaidli, Director of the Qatar Foundation for Protection of Women and Children will speak on the rights of women and children who are the major victims of passive smoking.
Reference: Qatar’s anti-tobacco drive gets in top gear, ThePeninsulaQatar.com, 6/1/2010.
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