Lebanon health chief takes aim at parents over smoking

Lebanese Health Minister Jamil Jabak announced a ban in his ministry’s headquarters. (AN photo)
Updated 05 September 2019

Lebanon health chief takes aim at parents over smoking

  • 40 percent of students aged 13 to 15 in Lebanese public and private schools smoke cigarettes, while 38 percent use waterpipes: WHO

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s health minister has launched an angry attack on parents who fail to stop their offspring smoking, warning that children as young as thirteen were being allowed to smoke waterpipes.

“Such parents deserve to go to prison because they are not performing their duty toward their children and society,” Jamil Jabak said.

Figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO) show that 40 percent of students aged 13 to 15 in Lebanese public and private schools smoke cigarettes, while 38 percent use waterpipes.

About 70 percent of students in the same age group are exposed to cigarette smoke in their homes, while 50 percent are exposed to waterpipe smoke.

The statistics were revealed by Dr. Iman Shankiti, WHO’s representative in Lebanon, at a joint press conference with the health minister on Wednesday.

Shankiti warned that “tobacco kills one person in the world every four seconds.”

Jabak announced that smoking will be banned in the ministry’s headquarters as a first step toward making all Lebanese ministries smoke free as part of a ban on smoking in public places.

FASTFACT 

•40 percent of students aged 13 to 15 in Lebanese public and private schools smoke cigarettes, while 38 percent use waterpipes.

• About 70 percent of students in the same age group are exposed to cigarette smoke in their homes, while 50 percent are exposed to waterpipe smoke.

A top-level meeting held two days ago to discuss measures to ease Lebanon’s mounting economic crisis decided to impose a tax of 1,000 Lebanese pounds (61 cents) on a pack of imported cigarettes to boost the state’s financial revenues. The 2019 budget passed two months ago approved the same tax on waterpipes ordered at restaurants and cafes.

After the smoking ban was passed in 2012 following years of debate, restaurant and cafe owners argued that it would result in the loss of $46 million in tourism revenue and threaten 2,600 full-time jobs.

However, the American University of Beirut (AUB) argued that the ban “will lead to an increase in the proportion of nonsmoking customers, a decrease in the health bill and a higher worker productivity.

The health minister on Wednesday said that inspectors will begin visiting restaurants and cafes to ensure the ban was being implemented.

Violations, including allowing smoking indoors or people under 18 to use waterpipes, would result in large fines,
he said.

Dr. Jad Chaaban, associate professor of economics at the AUB, said that smokers in Lebanon spend $437 million on cigarettes annually. Up to 25 percent of deaths in the country each year are caused
by smoking.

“The indirect health cost of smoking is $64.6 million per year, while the direct cost of smoking on the economy is $262.1 million. Cigarettes and cigarette packs make up 46 percent of the waste on the streets,” he said.


Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

Updated 17 min 1 sec ago

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

  • Joint operations planned to prevent attacks ahead of polls

KABUL: Afghan forces backed by US forces killed two senior Taliban leaders and at least 38 fighters of the hard-line insurgent group in joint airstrikes conducted in northern and western regions of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the US and the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry in a statement said that the Taliban’s designate governor for northern Samangan province, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed along with four fighters in an airstrike in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district.

But the Taliban denied the governor had been killed.

“He (Nooruddin) is alive,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.

HIGHLOW

  • Taliban deny the governor of Samangan province had been killed.
  • Last week, insurgents killed four Afghan special force members in a car bomb blast.
  • Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day.

In a separate incident, Mullah Sayed Azim, a Taliban designate governor for Anar Dara district in western Farah was killed in a joint Afghan and foreign force raid.

“Sayed Azim was killed along with 34 other insurgents in Anar Dara,” said Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for Farah provincial police.

Senior security officials in Kabul said several joint operations will be launched against Taliban and Daesh fighters to prevent attacks on Afghan forces and civilians ahead of the presidential polls on Sept. 28.

Fighting picked up in several parts of Afghanistan last week after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelation of talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and opening the way to end to 18 year-long war in Afghanistan. 

 

Troops for polling day

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 72,000 security personnel will be on duty around the 4,942 polling centers across Afghanistan while nearly 30,000 additional troops will serve as reserve units.

Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said security forces have recently taken back eight districts from the Taliban and that operations are underway to secure around 20 others.