Children as young as ten smoke in the UAE
Ministry of Health representatives from the UAE have just returned from the 12th Gulf Forum for Tobacco Control and Prevention, held in Saudi Arabia.
The UAE is yet to adopt national tobacco control, with barely any protection of passive smoking rights and a plethora of tobacco-related advertising and sponsorship. The average age for starting smoking is as young as ten, leaving the emirates in the grip of a smoking epidemic.
With this in mind Dr. Amin Mohammed – Director of Primary Health Care RAK, Consultant Family Physician and Director of Anti-Smoking Clinic – attended the 12th Gulf Forum for Tobacco Control and Prevention.
The Forum was a milestone in the history of GCC public health and international collaboration. Speakers from the World Health Organisation – both from Geneva and the region – were on hand to discuss the Global Framework for Smoking Prevention and ways to implement this framework in the GCC.
Focusing on taxes, labelling, advertising, liability and financing, the Global Framework was formally approved and agreed to in 2003 by the WHO member states. By taking this step, the GCC will join other member states in investing resources from the Ministries of Health, Education and Charity to raise awareness of smoking hazards and promote the health and wellbeing of its people.
Killing one in ten adults, smoking is the second major cause of death worldwide. Half of the people smoking today – about 650 million people – will eventually be killed by tobacco. Rany Victor, spokesman for Nicotinell by Novartis Consumer Health adds, “This forum was a hugely important first step in the assistance of smokers wishing to give up, and the protection of others from deadly second hand smoke.”
“Previously any progress centred on individual anti-smoking clinics or support groups, but now for the first time there will be a National body and a National tobacco control plan.” Dr Mohammed added, “Separate from the Ministry of Health, but with a Government-allocated budget, this will be an enormous step forward in the control and prevention of tobacco-related illness”.
Further points of discussion were the role of Non-Government Organizations, Parliament and Legalisation authorities in supporting and implementing this framework.
With the UAE-specific constrains cited as a lack of government commitment or tobacco control plan this forum has enabled a range of like-minded groups to work together with the aim of smoking prevention and control in the UAE.
With the Forum highlighting the need for smokers to give up, and at least a quarter of adult Emirati males addicted to nicotine1, a Nicotine Replacement Therapy – such as Nicotinell from Novartis Consumer Health – can be the most effective way of easing nicotine cravings. Available as patches or gum, the products not only provide a physical solution by weaning the smoker from their nicotine addiction, but also boost their willpower by giving them back control over their lives.