----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2006 12:02 PM
Subject: SR633m Goes Up in Smoke Yearly
SR633m Goes Up in Smoke Yearly
P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News
Saudi Arabia consumes more than 15 billion cigarettes annually. (File photo)
JEDDAH, 19 January 2006 - The hazardous habit of smoking, the main cause of
lung cancer that kills more than 1.5 million worldwide annually, is growing
in Saudi Arabia, especially among its younger population.
According to a report issued by the executive office of Gulf Cooperation
Council health ministers, Saudi Arabia consumes more than 15 billion
cigarettes worth SR633 million a year. The Kingdom is one of the world's
largest importers of cigarettes, it said.
"Lung cancer is spreading among Saudi men and women at the rate of 3.9
percent," it pointed out.
Smoking is rampant even among doctors, the report said, adding that about
six percent of female doctors in the Kingdom have joined the bandwagon of
The Kingdom's Western Region, whose main cities are Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah
and Taif, accounts for the highest number (26.8 percent) of smokers while
the Northern Region represents the lowest number with 14.9 percent.
Saudi women compete with their male population to smoke off their health and
pollute the country's clean environment. Women in the Eastern Province have
got the credit of being the country's largest tobacco consumers (45.5
Diseases caused by smoking kill more than 1.5 million people worldwide
annually, the report said, adding that the figure could hit 10 million by
The Saudi Health Ministry has taken a series of measures to reduce the
number of smokers in the country. It used this Haj season as a suitable
occasion to educate smokers to quit the unhealthy habit.
Entitled "Let's Make Makkah and Madinah Free from Tobacco," the ministry's
anti-smoking campaign was focused on keeping the pilgrims posted on the
serious health and economic consequences of smoking.
The event coincided with a landmark decision taken by the Madinah
Municipality on Jan. 1, banning the selling of tobacco and its ingredients
at shops around the Prophet's Mosque.
The government has banned smoking in many public places, such as schools,
universities, health and sports institutions, government buildings and
public transport. Violators of the rule would be fined SR200 on the spot.
The ministry has established specialized clinics to help people quit
smoking. But nicotine makes it hard for them to quit as it is as addictive
as heroin and cocaine.
Smoking causes not only lung cancer but also other kinds of cancer such as
cancer of the mouth, voice box (larynx), throat (pharynx), esophagus,
bladder, kidney, pancreas, liver, cervix, stomach, colon and rectum, and
Smokers are twice as likely to die from heart attacks as are nonsmokers.
Women who smoke are more likely to have a miscarriage or a lower
birth-weight baby, medical experts say.
Smoking is no more considered a fashion or a matter of prestige. Studies
show smoking employees cost businesses more as they are out sick more
frequently. Smokers put the health of those around them in danger. Studies
have shown that secondhand smoke causes thousands of deaths each year from
lung cancer and heart disease in healthy nonsmokers.
Don't vote against Iran again
When the International Atomic Energy Agency convenes an emergency meeting of
its Board of Governors in the next few weeks, India must not allow itself to
be dragooned into joining the Washington-led nuclear lynch mob against Iran.
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