Smoking kills 27 people in UAE each week

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Smoking kills 27 people in UAE each week

Fifth Tobacco Atlas launched in Abu Dhabi reveals disturbing facts

By Silvia Radan - Reporter, Abu Dhabi

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Published: Sat 21 Mar 2015, 12:17 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:34 PM

Abu Dhabi — At least 26 men die each week in the UAE due to tobacco use, an average, though lower than other high-income countries, needs action from policy-makers, according to the fifth Tobacco Atlas launched in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Besides these men, who make up 13 per cent of the smokers’ population, 2.1 per cent of women or one woman on average is killed due to tobacco every week. According to the atlas, more than 1,400 people are killed by tobacco-caused diseases, while more than 16,600 children and more than 110,7000 adults continue to use tobacco each day.

The atlas, launched during the ongoing World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCOTH), shows that smoking and smoking-related diseases are far from under control.

A comprehensive data source on tobacco, the atlas details deaths and illnesses caused by tobacco, economic impact, what works in controlling tobacco and the latest tactics of tobacco companies in fighting governments that impose tight measures on tobacco.

According to Dr Jeffrey Drape from the American Cancer Society, one of the atlas authors, about 5.8 trillion cigarettes were smoked in 2014 worldwide. The significant reduction in smoking rates in countries like the UK, Australia or Brazil, where tobacco control laws are increasingly implemented, have been offset by the growing consumption in just one nation — China — where there is now more cigarette consumption than all other low- and middle-income countries combined.

“Over one billion tobacco users continue in the world today, and more than half, perhaps even two-thirds will die from their addiction,” warned Dr Drape. Tobacco not only harms the entire body, causing diseases such as brain stroke, tuberculosis, pneumonia, lung, nasal, colon or liver cancers, gangrene and leukaemia, but it also harms the economy — a minimum of $1 trillion per year being lost to tobacco implications.

“Tobacco also harms the environment. Cigarette butts are the most discarded piece of rubbish in the world,” he added.

“Think about it: the world consumed nearly six trillion cigarettes last year, which means 1,7 billion pounds of toxic trash.”

And it is not just cigarettes that are the “devil”. Water pipes or shisha, particularly popular in the Middle East, also kill.

As Alex Liber from the American Cancer Society and contributing author to the atlas pointed out, Shisha has long been linked to lip and lung cancers and, as research progresses, it is expected that more diseases caused by this form of smoking will be added to the list.

“The use of shisha boomed in the 1990s with the introduction of massel, a molasses-soaked candy tobacco,” said Liber.

Prior to massel, plain tobacco shisha used to be smoked mostly by elderly men, but the new flavoured tobacco changed that.

“Tobacco companies now sell hundreds of shisha-flavoured tobacco, from apple to mango and vanilla icecream; these flavours appeal to young people and women,” stressed Liber. Therefore, in the Middle East, when women take up smoking, they go for shisha.

According to the atlas, 23 per cent of women and 13 per cent of men smoke shisha in the UAE.

That the water in the shisha filters out the tar and nicotine is just a myth. In fact, it has been proven that a shisha session is the equivalent of smoking 20 to 30 cigarettes.

“Nothing about massel tobacco is safe or traditional,” warned Liber. 

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