50 percent of Gulf Citizens are Smokers
Thirty to fifty percent of the people in the GCC countries are smokers and around 50 percent of students at high schools in these countries also smoke, according to the Qatari Minister of Health Hajar Al Benali.
The minister believes that the reason for the high incidence of smoking among the student population is that they are targeted by cigarette company advertisements. He added that the GCC states imported 65 billion cigarettes in 1998 alone costing them around $1.3 billion in addition to the costs of medical treatment, fires, and the decrease in productivity due to smoking.
Cited by the Emiarati Al Ittihad daily, Benali said at the opening speech to the GCC Cardiovascular Committee workshop in Doha that heart diseases are number one cause of death in the Gulf region. The minister indicated that deaths related to heart diseases accounted for 33 percent of the total fatalities in Qatar in 2000 with a considerable increase compared to 1981 statistics, when 16 percent of the deaths were attributed to heart diseases.
The World Bank has estimated the annual losses incurred by the GCC states due to smoking at 800 million dollars in addition to the costs of importing cigarettes, which bring the total losses to 2.1 billion dollars. The Bank pointed out that “had the Gulf States increased customs duties on cigarettes by 200 percent as proposed earlier by Qatar, smoking in these countries could have dropped by 50 percent.”
This, according to the report, would have increased tax revenues in these countries by 70 percent in addition to helping control smoking among children -- Albawaba.com
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