Alarming Rise in Number of Saudi Smokers

Filed on February 7, 2010

JEDDAH The number of smokers in Saudi Arabia has increased to six million, including 600,000 women. There are also 772,000 teenage smokers, including intermediate and secondary school students.

According to Dr Mohammed Al Baddah, supervisor of an anti-smoking programme at the health ministry, cigarette smoking in the kingdom was growing at an alarming rate.

Saudi Arabia is the fourth largest importer of cigarettes in the world. Thousands of workers die annually as a result of inhaling the smoke of fellow smokers during working hours.

According to statistics published by the Saudi Charitable Society to Combat Smoking on its website, cigarette smoking was the main reason behind the death of 13,544 people in Saudi Arabia in 2008.

Dr Ashraf Abdul Gayoom Amir, a consultant, said the number of smokers was likely to increase to 10 million due to lack of proper education and counselling about the bad effects of cigarette smoking.

A recent poll, which included smokers and nonsmokers, revealed that an estimated 98 per cent would like to ban smoking at their work environments.

According to Amir, a vast majority of smokers are in desperate need of aid and of medical support, hence the role of doctors in supporting the desire (of smokers) to succeed in quitting the habit is very important.

He said that a doctor’s advice could help five per cent of smokers quit the habit of smoking.

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