Smoking in the region
Tobacco kills more than five million people every year; Gulf nations are taking measures to help people kick the habit.
July 1, 2009 3:49 by Aarti Nagraj
Someone dies of smoking-related diseases every eight seconds, according to the WHO. In Saudi Arabia, officials estimate that around 6.9 million people smoke; a quarter of the kingdom’s population. A 2007 Health Ministry survey of 3,829 intermediate school students across the country found that 1 in 5 students use cigarettes or waterpipes, and 3 out of 10 live in homes where others smoke in their presence. Between 1982 and 2007 almost 31 billion packets of cigarettes were imported into Saudi.
According to Arab News, smoking was the main cause of more than 13,500 deaths in Saudi Arabia last year. The kingdom reportedly imports 43,000 tons of tobacco worth around $1.3 billion every year.
According to the WHO, 10 percent of 13 to 15 year olds in the UAE smoke, and 54 percent of smokers in the country are younger than 30 years of age. Residents of the country reportedly spend more than $100 million a year on tobacco.
Statistics claim that 40 percent of Bahrain’s youth under 18 years are regular smokers, of which 14 percent are female. Around 47 percent of Bahraini females of all ages smoke.
Everyday 3,000 kids worldwide become regular smokers and one-third eventually die from tobacco-related diseases.
Tobacco companies spend $5 billion annually, or $13 million a day, on advertising and marketing campaigns.