Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat- The director of the charity to combat smoking in the Eastern Province in Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Saleh al Abaad stated, “The percentage of female smokers in Saudi Arabia is small, in contrast to what the mass media has announced.” Al Abaad added that many parents remain unaware that their daughters smoke and that his association “lacks statistics on the number of female smokers in Saudi Arabia.”
A number of female smokers noted that the length of treatment taken in clinics to combat the habit is too long as they attend these clinics covertly. Treatment could take up to six days.
A study has indicated that the number of Saudi female smokers makes up 15% of all smokers and that a large proportion of them are students and teachers. The total number of smokers in Saudi Arabia is six million and the kingdom ranks fourth as having the largest number of smokers in the world in proportion to population as well as considering the level of the importing of cigarettes.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of deaths as a result of smoking in Saudi Arabia is approximately 21,000 per year. The national registry at the Ministry of Health stated that Saudis consume up to 15 billion cigarettes per year. As for the charity to combat smoking in the Eastern Province, according to its figures, the number of cigarettes consumed on a daily basis is 194, 730 nearly 10,000 packs a day (80,102,000 and 3,504,960 respectively per annum).
Specialized clinics to help combat smoking can cost up to 54,000 Saudi Riyals a day, costing one person up to 20,000,000 Saudi Riyals for one year’s treatment.
As for the health damage caused by smoking to those who visit the clinics, 3300 suffer from chronic bronchitis, 1250 suffer from emphysema, 1250 suffer from heart disease, diabetes and blood pressure, 1033 are asthmatics and 592 are free of long-term illnesses, however may suffer from coughs, breathing problems, heart pain and palpitations.
Cigarettes are the most popular type of tobacco that is consumed, followed by Shisha (water-pipe) and lastly Persian tobacco. The number of married smokers stands at 53% whilst the number of unmarried smokers is 47%. The reasons given for smoking include peer pressure (81%), domestic life (11%) and work (8%).
The number of those who had given up smoking after visiting the clinics reached 58%, the majority of which were between 26 and 40-years-old. 32.4% of 13 to 25-year-olds and 15.4% of over forty-year-olds had also given up the deadly habit.
According to the study, Riyadh is home to the largest number of people who choose to give up smoking, followed by the Eastern Province and finally Al Othaim.
The charity highlights the dangers of smoking by using posters and by talking to students particularly those in the fifth grade. The charity seeks to educate society on the hazards of smoking and to provide treatment for those who want to give up the habit. The association also organizes activities, exhibitions and seminars in different parts of Saudi Arabia, in schools and companies, to reinforce the negative effect of