Studies suggest that some 15 percent of preparatory and secondary school students in Qatar use smokeless (chewing) tobacco which is easily accessible in the local market.
There are some students who are addicted to both, smoking and chewing tobacco, says the study.
The addiction is more among secondary school students as some 17 percent of those surveyed were found to have used chewing tobacco either once or many times over, while some said they were using it regularly.
The study has been conducted by the Social Rehabilitation Centre and the Research and Policy Analysis centre of the Supreme Education Council (SEC), the regulator of schools.
The study, according to local Arabic daily Al Raya, reveals that at least 78 percent of chewing tobacco users were Qatari students and their average age was 17. Many of them have been using the chewing tobacco (known in the Gulf region as sweka) since the age of 14. Most of the addicted Qatari students hail from well-off families enjoying social status and their parents are educated, some of them highly.
And the use of sweka becomes especially frequent during the time of examinations as students find the tobacco as a stress-buster, says the study. The schools where the use of the chewing tobacco is more common are located mainly in places such as Al Wakra, Al Rayyan, Al Shahaniya and Al Muaither.
Neighbourhood stores in these areas sell sweka on the sly, says the study, urging the authorities concerned to launch severe crackdown on the shady operators.
“What we need is a law to ban sweka and more important is to raise public awareness against its use,” the study suggests.
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