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October 2, 2010 - The Lebanese National Tobacco Control Program (NTCP) estimates that some 75 percent of Lebanese children are regularly exposed to SHS (second hand smoke, SHS, environmental smoking, ETS, passive smoking, involuntary smoking, sidestream smoke) 150,000 youngsters could die prematurely if exposure is not severely limited, they added. “Exposure to SHS is a major cause of premature death and disease in non-smokers,” a 2008 NTCP-sponsored study lead by Dr Georges Saade, found. “[SHS exposure] among children is a major pediatric problem and is associated with increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and increased severity of asthma symptom.”revealed.
The NTCP is now urging the government to fast-track proposed tobacco control legislation currently “stuck” in discussions by the Parliament’s Administrative and Justice Committee. While the organization and human rights activists would like to see a total ban on smoking in public places enacted as soon as possible, certain business interests argue that introducing the ban would hit the entertainment industry and reduce tax and advertising revenue.
Smoking instance in Lebanon is among the highest in the region, but, unlike its neighbors who have begun to introduce smoking bans, the country has done little to curb prevalence or protect non-smokers. Syria and Turkey have both enacted public smoking bans with little impact on businesses, activists claim.
Narguileh is a water pipe. Sitting in a smoking cafe serving narguileh is as bad for your health as sitting in Beirut’s famous Salim Slam Tunnel during rush-hour, new findings have shown. Cancer-causing pollution levels inside one of Beirut’s busiest passageways are roughly equal to those found in 15 of the capital’s restaurants that sold water pipes, research conducted by the Health Ministry-affiliated National Tobacco Control Program (NTCP) has revealed.
Based on World Health Organization (WHO) standards levels in the tunnel proved to be almost 18 times higher than acceptable levels, while those in cafes were on average 15 times the levels considered safe for human health. Almost half of the cafes surveyed, however, actually had higher levels than Salim Slam, with one being 25 times more polluted, the NTCP found.
“The difference between the two locations, is that in restaurants that serve narguileh, you sit for hours, while it takes less than a minute to pass through Salim Slem Tunnel – most of the time with the windows closed,” the NTCP said.
Because of its sweet smell, narguileh is often considered to be less harmful to health than cigarettes, but a mounting body of scientific evidence is discrediting this assumption and proving that “hookah” (Sheesha, hubble-bubble, Shisha, Hookah, Narghile, Waterpipe) is just as dangerous. It is estimated that water pipe sessions lasting 30 minutes may generate similar emissions to a single cigarette smoked for around 10 minutes.
Lebanese restaurant pollution figures for the recent comparison are taken from the 2008 report, but with no changes in smoking legislation – and the practice continuing largely unchecked in most establishments – it is assumed that hazard levels have remained relatively constant.
Reference: Secondhand smoke affecting nation's youth
150,000 Lebanese youngsters could die prematurely if Government does not act, groups claim by Simona Sikimic Daily Star staff, The Daily Star (Lebanon), 9/30/2010.
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