In light of this year's 'World No Tobacco Day 2020', which focuses on protecting the youth of today from the tobacco industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use, it is important for us in Qatar to educate our youth about the harmful effects of smoking and the damage it can do to their bodies. In addition, it is important to empower them to understand the tactics used by the tobacco industry to manipulate them into using their products.
Smoking is a major health risk all over the world and is one of the biggest causes of preventable diseases and death in the world. Qatar is no different. Smoking poses many hazards to society as well, and the government in Qatar is striving towards reducing smoking in all forms in the country and discouraging this harmful habit, especially among the younger generation who are more susceptible to start the habit, as well as controlling the use and sale of tobacco and all its derivatives.
Smoking is a health hazard for smokers and non-smokers, too, who are continuously being exposed to second-hand smoke. In additional to cigarettes, shisha is also prevalent in Qatar and the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in Qatar runs no smoking campaigns throughout the year and has also enforced laws in an attempt to curb smoking in Qatar.
The MoPH is committed to reducing smoking - especially in the young generation - encouraging them to quit smoking through its quitting service, enhancing family and community support when it comes to implementing no smoking laws, conducting more research in this field and finding new ways to curb this problem.
These steps taken by the MoPH have borne fruit and positive development has been that smoking is on the decrease, especially among the young generation in Qatar. This fact has been endorsed by the latest Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS).
GYTS is a component of the Global Tobacco Surveillance System (GTSS), which is a global standard for methodically
It assists countries in fulfilling their obligations under the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to generate comparable data within and across countries.
GYTS uses a standard questionnaire with 56 ‘core’ questions which are formulated so as to gather data in the following seven domains, sample design, and data collection protocol. The questionnaire also gives the individual countries the freedom to also insert their own country-specific questions.
GYTS is conducted every five years and this was the fourth time it was held in Qatar in 2018 by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). A total of 2,328 Qatari and non-Qatari students from grades 7 to 9 participated in the survey; 1,608 of these students were aged between 13 and 15 years of age.
Results of the survey indicated that 15.7% of boys in Qatar and 8.7% of girls used some tobacco product or the other. In other words, 6.6% of the students smoked cigarettes and 4.5% were using smokeless tobacco.
The survey also brought to light the fact that 12.1 students ranging from 13 to 15 years of age smoke some form of tobacco in Qatar. This has decreased: in 2013, 15% students in the same age range were smoking tobacco, while in 2004, the figure was 20%. This indicates an almost 8% decline in smoking in Qatar since 2004.
The MoPh believes that now that the tobacco tax has been implemented, and the price of tobacco has gone up, it will become more expensive for the younger generation to buy tobacco products. The MoPH is also conducting more timely inspections of shops that sell tobacco products and keeping them under surveillance to ensure they are not selling cigarettes to minors.
According to GYTS, 11.3% students, (15% of boys; 7.8% of girls) use electronic cigarettes in Qatar.
More than five out of 10 (54.5%) current tobacco smokers tried to stop smoking in the past 12 months and more than five out of 10 (50.1%) tobacco smokers wanted to stop smoking now.
The survey also concluded that 24.5% of students were exposed to second-hand smoking at home and 41.8% to tobacco smoke inside indoor public places. 55.6% of students thought second-hand smoking was harmful to their health and 71.5% were in favour of banning smoking inside indoor public places.
About 54.3% students were able to buy cigarettes from a shop, store, kiosk, cafeteria or street vendor. Among those who tried to buy cigarettes, 69.1% were able to buy cigarettes despite being under the legal tobacco buying age of 18 in Qatar. In other words, their age was not a deterrent, and the law was not being taken so seriously by some shops.
Almost 5 out of 10 (46.2%) students noticed anti-tobacco messages in the media and approximately 3 out of 10 (28.3%) students noticed tobacco advertisements or promotions when visiting points of sale.
Though the number of younger generation smokers is on the decrease, more needs to be done in Qatar to improve not only the quitting rate, but also make moves that ensure the younger generation understand, in detail, the harmful effects of tobacco and its products on their bodies, those around them and the environment in general.
Though quitting services are available in Qatar, they are not well-equipped or user-friendly for the younger generation that is more vulnerable. This is something the MoPH is currently working on.
Preventing the use of tobacco among the younger generation is one of the important elements of anti-tobacco campaigns in Qatar. It is easier to prevent younger people from using tobacco than to break the habit of dependency, and the MoPH is continuously working towards reducing smoking in all forms in the country and its aim is to have a 90% non-smoking population in the near future.
To report any tobacco-related violations in Qatar, feel free to contact +974 5030 2001 or e-mail: [email protected]
What do you think of the statistics? Do you see a lot of teenagers smoking in Qatar? Do you feel the government of Qatar is doing enough to curb smoking amongst the youth? Do let us know what you think. Like and share the article - it keeps us going!
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