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.


Jordanian charged with ‘terror’ over tourist stabbings

Updated 21 min 30 sec ago

Jordanian charged with ‘terror’ over tourist stabbings

  • The suspect, Moustafa Abourouis, 22, faces up to 20 years in prison
  • Prosecutors accused Abourouis of committing a “terrorist act” and “promoting the ideas of a terrorist group”

AMMAN: A Jordanian court on Sunday levelled “terrorism” charges against a man suspected of wounding eight people in a November knife attack at a popular tourist site.
The suspect, Moustafa Abourouis, 22, faces up to 20 years in prison after the stabbing of three Mexicans, a Swiss woman, a Jordanian tour guide and a security officer at the Roman city of Jerash.
At a hearing open to the press, prosecutors accused Abourouis of committing a “terrorist act” and “promoting the ideas of a terrorist group” — a reference to the Daesh group.
Abourouis, who is of Palestinian origins and grew up in the refugee camp of Souf, was arrested immediately after the attack at Jerash, close to the camp and around 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Amman.
The Jordanian prosecutor accused Abourouis of trying to join Daesh, an operative of which in Syria had “ordered him to commit attacks against foreigners.”
Two alleged accomplices, also Jordanians of Palestinian origin, were charged with “terrorism” in the same case. All three pleaded not guilty.
The court is scheduled to hear witnesses next Sunday, with the date for a verdict to be confirmed.
It was not the first time a Jordanian tourist attraction has been attacked.
In December 2016, in Karak, home to one of the region’s biggest Crusader castles, 10 people — seven police, two Jordanian civilians and a Canadian tourist — were killed in an attack that also left 30 wounded.
That attack was claimed by Daesh and 10 people were later convicted of carrying out the assault, two of them sentenced to death.
Tourism is a key lifeline for Jordan, a country lacking in natural resources and reliant on foreign aid. The sector accounted for 14 percent of GDP in 2019.
The kingdom, bordering conflict-torn Syria and Iraq, has been working to revive its tourism industry and aims to attract seven million holidaymakers a year.