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WHO: 50% of Egyptian Youth Exposed to Secondhand Smoke

WHO: 50% of Egyptian Youth Exposed to Secondhand Smoke

Tuesday, 4 December, 2018 - 07:30
An elderly man smokes his cigarette in front of his house at Manshiet Nasser shanty town in the capital Cairo. (Reuters)
Cairo - Hazem Bader

A national joint survey by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Population in Egypt revealed that "almost half of young Egyptians (48.9%) are exposed to secondhand smoke at home, and 36.5% are exposed to it in the workplace."

Dr. Doaa Al-Saleh, coordinator of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), said: "These rates refer to those who are forcibly exposed to smoking, but the rate of those who smoke is high as well."

According to the survey released on Monday, nearly a quarter of the Egyptian population (22.8%) are consumers of tobacco in various forms, and this rate is remarkably high among men 43.6%, which makes Egypt among the countries with the highest smoking rate in the Middle East and the world.

On the other hand, the report surprisingly showed a very low smoking rate among women, only 0.5%, which Saleh attributed to the methodology of the survey, explaining that "the survey was based on visits the organization team made in homes, where most women deny smoking in the presence of a husband, father or brother."

She said that "as we seek to cooperate with the Egyptian government to combat tobacco, it is important for us to know the facts about women smoking. During an observation conducted in places like universities and clubs, we found that we may get the answers we want from women here, and that what we intend to do through an extensive study."

This procedure aims to identify the real magnitude of the problem, which will help in formulating the programs that will be launched within the framework of the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). This will help Egypt and 14 other countries activate their tobacco control efforts.

With the launch of the project, WHO requested the countries hoping to benefit from its services to submit national tobacco control strategies, to assess them and support the best among them.

Sixty countries were represented, and 15 including Egypt were selected, according to Dr. Doaa Saleh.

The Egyptian strategy, which has been supported by the project, includes 13 articles. The most important of these are the preparation of a national tobacco control plan, the activation of secondhand smoking control measures, the enforcement of laws prohibiting smoking in public places, the fight against illicit tobacco trade and the reactivation of the National Tobacco Control Committee.

Through the FCTC, WHO seeks to assist Egypt with technical expertise and support to achieve the objectives of this strategy, which are consistent with the objectives of the organization's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The agenda aims to reduce premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by 30% by 2030. The growing efforts to implement the WHO FCTC are one of the most important tools to achieve this goal.

According to WHO statistics, more than 7 million people a year die as a result of tobacco use, and 900,000 people die from exposure to secondhand smoke.

The organization aspires to actually reduce tobacco use by 20 to 40% within five years, and 36% within 15 years, by helping countries to implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and adopt the procedures of the program including six policies to reduce the demand for this deadly product.

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