Egypt's minister of health issued orders this week that his ministry will only hire and promote nonsmokers, reported The Associated Press.
"How can you be hired in a place to cure people and you are harming them? This is a basic job description. It is no violation of personal freedom," Sami Ghanem, director of the Health Ministry's anti-smoking program, said in an interview Monday.
The step is part of an anti-smoking campaign that is an uphill battle in a country where smokers are so common, said the agency.
A survey prepared by the ministry reports that 40 percent of adult male Egyptians and 8 percent of adult female Egyptians smoke, said Ghanem, who gave up smoking four years ago. A 1995 World Health Organization report said the number of smokers in Egypt increased 274 percent between 1963 and 1990.
WHO estimates that smoking kills more than 4 million people around the world every year, a figure that could rise to 10 million per year by 2030 because of increasing tobacco use in developing countries, added the AP.
The Egyptian government's campaign to reduce smoking started when cigarette advertising was banned from television in 1977. Smoking was later banned on public buses.
The Health Ministry is working closely with other ministries to "stimulate people's thinking about the dangers of smoking," Ghanem said.
"During Friday prayers, sheiks are urged to preach about the dangers of smoking," Ghanem said. Egypt's grand mufti ruled last month that smoking can be legitimate grounds for divorce -- Albawaba.com
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