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Food & Health

Smoking kills 23,000 every year

Smoking kills more than 23,000 smokers in the Kingdom every year, said Ahmed Albualli, chairman of the supervisory board at the Anti-Smoking Society (Naqaa), who expressed deep concern about the high incidence of smoking-related deaths in the Kingdom.
Albualli said that the society had succeeded in helping more than 61,000 smokers quit smoking, which is about 70 percent of the total number of patients who visited the society for help in quitting during the past year.
Saudi Arabia is the largest market for tobacco in the Middle East and ranks fourth for the number of smokers globally.
Albualli highlighted the seriousness of smoking, revealing that 90 percent of those who use drugs tried smoking at a young age and that smoking is the gateway to drug use.
In the UK, the proportion of smoking among male students has increased to 13 percent, compared with five percent among female students, while about 27 percent start smoking in elementary school and 53 percent start in middle school.
He said there is insufficient follow-up by authorities, as well as a lack of resources available for associations that fight smoking.
“Hiking prices alone won’t limit the lethal phenomenon,” he said.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smoking kills 5 million people worldwide annually, of whom 23,000 are in the Kingdom.
Each cigarette contains 4,000 chemicals, and about 600,000 people die annually due to second-hand smoking, 40 percent of whom are children.
Albualli said the Kingdom ranks 23rd in the world in tobacco consumption, according to the WHO report for the Eastern Mediterranean region for 2004.
A recent study by the American Cancer Society showed that approximately 20 to 56 percent of youth in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries live in homes with smokers.
Fahd Al-Hamad, an educational supervisor, revealed to Arab News that young smokers start smoking during adolescence, mostly around the age of 13, due to peer pressure. He believes that raising the price of cigarettes to reduce the number of smokers has little effect.

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