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5 December 2018 02:46 pm

Smoking habits of students in Qatar

nabeela
nabeela
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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.

Stop smoking Qatar
  • Smoking is prohibited in closed public spaces.
  • A ban has been enforced on smoking in vehicles with children under the age of 18.
  • Shops that allow the use of tobacco indoors or sell tobacco products to minors can face huge fines and up to three months closure. 
  • The law also prohibits advertising or promotions for tobacco products and bans the use of electronic cigarettes, sweika and other chewing tobacco products. 
  • Importing, circulating, displaying, selling, distributing or manufacturing chewing tobacco, in any form and under any name, shall be prohibited. Importing, circulating, displaying, selling, distributing or manufacturing electronic cigarette, shisha or simulators of smoking tools is prohibited. Importing, circulating, displaying, selling, distributing or manufacturing Sweika, in any form or under any name,is also prohibited.
  • The sale of cigarettes of all types or tobacco and its derivatives to any person under 18 (eighteen) Gregorian years is prohibited. Ignorance of the law shall not be an excuse and the seller shall take all necessary precautions to ascertain the age of the buyer.
  • The allocation of stores for sales of cigarettes, tobacco, or its derivatives without obtaining a license are prohibited.
  • Stores that offer cigarettes or tobacco or its derivatives for sale shall designate a selling place inside the store, and shall prominently and legibly display required cautionary statements and images inside the store or on other conspicuous banners, in accordance with the regulations of the decision promulgated by the Minister.
  • The sale, circulation or display of any quantity of tobacco or its derivatives after its expiry date is prohibited.
  • Smoking sin prohibited in enclosed public places set forth by a decision of the Minister.
  • The sale of cigarettes or tobacco or its derivatives at a distance of less than 1,000 meters from schools and other educational and training institutions is prohibited.
  • The advertising, promoting, or sponsoring of cigarettes or tobacco or its derivatives with a view to promoting and encouraging smoking is prohibited in all places and by any advertising media in Qatar. Use of tobacco or its derivatives as means to advertising another product is also be prohibited.
  • The allocation of stores for sales of cigarettes, tobacco, or its derivatives without obtaining a license is prohibited.
Quitting smoking in Qatar

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).  

What is GYTS?

GYTS is a component of the Global Tobacco Surveillance System (GTSS), which is a global standard for methodically

  • monitoring the use of tobacco (smoking and smokeless) among the younger generation, and
  • tracking key tobacco control indicators.

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.

  • Knowledge and attitudes of young people towards cigarette smoking
  • Prevalence of cigarette smoking and other tobacco use among young people
  • Role of the media and advertising in young people’s use of cigarettes
  • Access to cigarettes
  • Tobacco-related school curriculum
  • Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)
  • Cessation of cigarette smoking
Youth smoking in Qatar

GTYS 2018 Qatar survey results

GYTS is conducted every five years and this was the fourth time it was held in Qatar this year 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.

Number of students that use tobacco in Qatar

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.

Tobacco tax and price hike

The MoPh believes that when tobacco tax is implemented, and the price of tobacco goes 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.

Electronic cigarettes

According to GYTS, 11.3% students, (15% of boys; 7.8% of girls) use electronic cigarettes in Qatar.

E-cigarettes in Qatar

Quitting smoking

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.

Second-hand smoking

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.

Second Hand Smoking in Qatar

Buying cigarettes

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.

Tobacco advertising

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.

More needs to be done

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.

Tobacco law violation hotline

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 artice - it keeps us going!