Smoking costs GCC more than $500 million - experts
The six member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are home to four million smokers who consume more than 50 billion cigarettes annually and cost more than $500 million (Dh1.83 million) in health care, experts warned.
Arabi Atta Allah and Majdi Ashoor, experts with the Qatar Supreme Health Council, said that the total number of smokers in the GCC member countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — increased by 150,000 smokers annually, Qatari daily Al Sharq reported on Sunday.
“The GCC states spend around $800 million annually on tobacco products,” they said. “However, the massive smoking habits in the GCC exceeded $500 million in health costs.
According to one study, up to 50 per cent of the GCC students aged between 14 and 18 smoke regularly.
Around 25 per cent started puffing at cigarettes when they were between ten and 15 years old,” the two experts said as they gave a lecture in the Qatari capital Doha on the negative effects of smoking.
Referring to the local situation, they said that Qatar had more than 80,000 smokers, representing 14 per cent of the total population.
Around one quarter of all Qatar smokers are young people while adults make up 40 per cent.
“Smokers in Qatar smoke 960,000 cigarettes annually, an average of 12,000 cigarettes per smoker annually or 33 cigarettes a day,” they said.
“In the Arab world, the number of smokers has been steadily increasing, reaching 70 per cent among males and 25 per cent among females. Worldwide, the number of smokers was more than 1.1 billion people. Currently, around five million people die annually from smoking-related effects and there are concerns that tobacco products will cause the death of 25 million people by 2025,” they said.
GCC countries have been pushing regular anti-smoking campaigns and have imposed a series of bans and restrictions on public smoking.