31st May was World No Tobacco Day 2012. The occasion was marked by countries across the Middle East in a variety of different ways.
World No Tobacco Day is an initiative devised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to raise awareness of the health risks of tobacco worldwide. Smoking in particular is linked to the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer and cardiovascular disease worldwide
To mark World No Tobacco Day in Dubai, tobacco sales were banned for twenty-four hours across the emirate. Over 300 stores, including supermarkets convenience stores and petrol stations, took part in the voluntary ban which aims to raise awareness of the risks of smoking. The Ministry of Health in Dubai also uses the event to encourage retailers to stop selling tobacco products on a permanent basis.
Ahead of World No Tobacco Day, the Municipality of Sharjah banned the sale of tobacco products in grocery stores. The law applies to all supermarkets and convenience stores located in residential areas.
Abu Dhabi launched a national anti-tobacco campaign under the slogan ‘Abu Dhabi Says No to Tobacco’. The campaign promotes the work of Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) in partnership with other government and non-government agencies to make the emirate smoke-free.
Jordan’s Ministry of Health chose World No Tobacco Day to announce stricter enforcement of tobacco laws. Smoking in public places has been illegal since 2009, however until now, this law has not be strictly enforced. The announcement tied in with a report released by the Department of Statistics on 30th May, which revealed that expenditure on tobacco in Jordan has increased from JD352.3m in 2008 to JD480.7m in 2010.
Ministry of Health personnel in Qatar marked the day with a number of initiatives to improve people’s understanding of the health risks of smoking and to increase their awareness of the support available to help them quit.
In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health announced a range of plans to reduce and discourage smoking, including strict enforcement of laws against smoking in public, raising customs tax to 100 per cent on tobacco products, and an anti-smoking education programme in schools.
Like Sharjah, Saudi Arabia planned its anti-tobacco initiative to take place ahead of World No Tobacco Day, by announcing a ban on selling tobacco to young people under the age of 18. The Ministry of Health hopes that this will help deter a new generation from becoming addicted to tobacco.