Khobar, Asharq Al-Awsat – The director of the GCC Health Ministers Councils Executive Bureau, Dr Tawfiq Bin Ahmed Khojah stressed that the number of female smokers in Saudi Arabia is estimated at over 600,000 and is expected to double in the coming years, Monday.
Dr Khojah stated that the number of people who die from passive smoking numbers over 5000 annually and that the GCC states have ratified the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Dr Khojah stated that the GCC Health Ministers Council is keen to repudiate methods used by tobacco companies in marketing and advertising their products. He highlighted that the Saudi Ministry of Health continues to take legal action against tobacco companies and called upon the GCC state to tighten regulations regarding these companies.
Dr Khojah explained that smoking has spread amongst Gulf societies in a dangerous manner and that many measures have been taken against tobacco companies that use various methods to penetrate the Gulf market and to attract the youth to its products.
The 13th symposium on tobacco control will be held in April 2008 in Bahrain by the Executive Bureau and will look at the judicial and legal aspects in light of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
A recent study by the Saudi Association for family health revealed that 22% of secondary school students in kingdom are smokers. The report also states that smoking amongst lower to mid income families is on the rise due to increasing economic, social and media pressures.
The kingdom is one of the world’s largest importers of tobacco in all its forms.