Use of smokeless (chewing) tobacco is increasing in Qatar - especially among school-going teenagers, health and education experts were quoted saying by Al Sharq on Tuesday.
“Smokeless chewing tobacco (commonly known as sweka in the Gulf) is a type of drug that can lead to diseases of the mouth and jaw and it is also hazardous to health. In some cases, its use also leads to mouth and throat cancers. But despite its harm, the substance is used by many citizens,” said Ahmed Al Mullah, who works at the Anti-Smoking Clinic at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
Experts say that the use of tobacco substances increases with the start of academic year in high schools and there is a need to impose punishment and fines to stop the trade of this substance among youngsters.
Earlier this year, a study conducted by the Social Rehabilitation Centre and the Research and Policy Analysis centre of the Supreme Education Council (SEC) revealed that some 15 percent of preparatory and secondary school students in Qatar use chewing tobacco and that it is easily accessible in the local market.
There are some students who were addicted to both, smoking and chewing tobacco, the study said. The addiction is more among secondary school students where 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.
Maryum Mohammad Abdullah, the evaluation expert at the Supreme Education Council, said that schools, Ministry of Health and Municipality of Urban Planning and other organisations should come together to fight against the use of chewing tobacco.
“We need to spread awareness through media to stop the youngsters from becoming addicts to tobacco,” she said, while insisting that the government needs to raid places where this substance is distributed.
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