Saudi Arabia - to launch a natioinwide anti-smoking campaign..

August 12, 2010 - RIYADH: The Ministry of Health is to launch a nationwide anti-smoking campaign to coincide with Ramadan, said Dr. Majed Al-Munif, supervisor general of the Tobacco Control Program at the ministry. “It’s a timely launch geared to reduce the smoking population in the Kingdom,” said Al-Munif, adding that the campaign will use both the electronic and print media.

On June 24, 2010 we reported there is a growing concern in Saudi Arabia because of the continuing increase in the number of smokers of both sexes, especially among young people and minors. (Saudi Arabia - number of smokers has increased..)

Recently Saudi Arabia did attend a 4-day event entitled, "Framework Convention on Tobacco Control [FCTC] policies and their implementation in Arab countries," at American University of Beirut (AUB), Lebanon.
Al-Munif said that special messages requesting people to quit smoking will be broadcast on television and radio, and thousands of leaflets, brochures and posters on how to quit smoking during Ramadan will be distributed and displayed throughout the Kingdom’s 20 health regions.

The ministry is to also launch a website — Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — Ministry of Health Tobacco Control Program on the subject. The site will also provide general guidelines for smokers to quit smoking, he added. “We will also try to reach a section of people through the Kingdom’s Daw’ah centers to encourage people to stop smoking,” said Al-Munif, adding that officials will also target people at the Kingdom’s airports.

“The holy month provides an ideal opportunity to give up smoking which has killed around 29 million people in the world,” he said, adding that the campaign will also be carried out through some 50 anti-smoking clinics across the Kingdom. The clinics will remain open daily from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. during Ramadan.

There are 10 such clinics in Riyadh, two of which are exclusively for women.

“If smokers can do without tobacco during the day, why can’t they do without it during the night also? This will be the main emphasis of our campaign,” said Al-Munif. He also called on smokers to use scientific methods to quit smoking and not to reject the positive effects of herbal treatment. “We are trying to reach smokers through mosques, anti-smoking clinics, public places, parks, malls, hospitals and schools,” he said.

Indicating that more than 100 million people have died of tobacco-related diseases during the last century, he said that the number is likely to increase to 1 billion during this century if constructive efforts are not taken to curtail the problem.

The Kingdom imports around 45,000 tons of tobacco to the value of SR1.7 billion for local consumption. A portion of this is taken abroad by expatriate workers as cigarette prices are cheaper in the Kingdom compared to abroad.

More than 600,000 school students in the Kingdom under the age of 22 smoke. It was also found that the majority of students who smoke do so due to peer pressure, seeing fathers smoke, and frustration on account of parental neglect.

The Kingdom joined the anti-tobacco agreement in May 2005. Saudi Arabia ranks fourth among world countries in tobacco imports and consumption. (Saudi Arabia ratified the
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) public health treaty on May 9, 2005.)

More than 15 billion cigarettes worth $168 million are smoked by Saudis per year, according to the figures of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s Health Ministers Council.

Reference: MOH to launch nationwide anti-smoking campaign during Ramadan by MD RASOOLDEEN, ARAB NEWS, 8/10/2010.

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