Living in a haze of tobacco smoke

tobacco smokeThe World Health Organisation’s (WHO) latest report, “Global Tobacco Epidemic 2008-MPOWER Package”, has thrown up interesting facts and figures about passive smoking in Qatar. WHO’s country report shows that a large number of womenfolk in Qatar are passive smokers.

The report says an estimated 33.8 percent of youth in Qatar are active smokers. Of this 12.7 percent are female.

But the proportion of Qatar’s passive female smokers is an alarming 46.8 percent. This is the percentage of women who are exposed to smoke inside their homes. The rate may even touch 50.3 percent, the report states.

Significantly, the number of males exposed to tobacco smoke inside homes in Qatar is less than that of females. The WHO country report says 30.2 percent of males are passive smokers inside homes.

In Bahrain, 45.3 percent females are exposed to smoke in their homes. This is again higher than the figures for males, which is

38.7 percent.

In UAE families, 31.6 percent of the females are passive smokers. The rate of male passive smokers is estimated to be around 25 percent.

Kuwait has the highest number of young female smokers in the region, which is14.3 percent. At least 11.7 percent young females in Bahrain are active smokers. In UAE, 13.2 percent of the females are active smokers.

The WHO report presents the first comprehensive worldwide analysis of tobacco use and control efforts. It provides countries with a road map to reverse the global tobacco epidemic that could kill up to a billion people by the end of the century.

The report outlines the MPOWER package, a set of six key control measures that reflect and build on the WHO’s framework on tobacco control.

The report says Qatar is earmarking QR353,000 in its annual budget for tobacco control activities. In Qatar, it is mandatory for the tobacco companies to cover 30 percent of the principal display area of cigarette packets with a health warning.

The anti-smoking campaigns are being carried out at sales points, through billboards, and through the local media. Nicotine replacement therapy is available in Qatar. But Qatar has no toll-free ‘Quit Smoking’ helplines, the report said.

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