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Jordan launches anti-tobacco campaign starting with smoke-free hospitals

By JT - May 31,2019 - Last updated at May 31,2019

AMMAN — Under the patronage of HRH Princess Dina Mired, the Ministry of Health, jointly with the World Health Organisation, on Thursday launched a campaign to combat tobacco on the occasion of the World No Tobacco Day.

Figures highlighted in a statement sent to The Jordan Times show that at least 70 per cent of all men in Jordan smoke.

More worryingly, the figures, dating back to 2014 and 2015, highlighted that 45 per cent of schoolboys aged 13-15 have smoked at least once in their lives.

In the statement, the ministry called on UN agencies, academia, media, the private sector and the civil society to unite against the spread of tobacco use in Jordan.

“We all have a duty to protect our youth from the snares of the tobacco industry, which is intent on capturing the lungs of our youth to consume their deadly products,” Princess Dina stated.

The campaign, entitled “Tobacco and Lung Health – Don’t let tobacco take your breath away”, aims to launch an all-encompassing effort to combat the problem.

“Jordan is the second country in the world with the highest burden of smoking amongst males and the highest in the region among youth!” Princess Dina underscored.

Projections estimate that by 2025, the rate of men-smokers in Jordan will grow to 87 per cent, while figures showed that around 68 per cent are passive smokers, the statement underlined, citing studies dating back to 2015, 2014 and 2007.

Jordan is number two worldwide, in terms of prevalence, and number one in the region, the ministry statement underlined.

In recent years, the consumption of argileh has increased at an alarming rate, the ministry said.

The argileh problem is especially problematic among youth and women, as put in the official statement.

It is just as much a problem, the statement claims, as electronic tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, are rapidly trending.

“All these products contain nicotine and other harmful toxicants; therefore, concerted action is critical to protect the youth from a lifetime of potential nicotine addiction and harm to their health,” the ministry stated.

To begin with, the campaign will launch with the joint initiative, engaging of hospital directors from across Amman, to call for the implementation of smoke-free Hospitals.

The statement underlined it an “urgent milestone” as the Princess noted the situation as “very grave”.

“Decision makers need to implement every article and every letter of the WHO FCTC treaty and the National Public Health Law 47 to implement smoke-free public places, ban on advertising of tobacco products and other measures,” she said.

“Otherwise”, the princess warned, “they will all be held accountable for leading our population into a sick future.”

Minister of Health Saad Jaber stated that “the Ministry of Health is in the process of enforcing the smoke-free public places law throughout the Kingdom”.

This is in accordance with the national goals to prevent smoking in public and private health institutions, he added.

“As a result, the Ministry of Health has approved the National Smoke-Free Healthcare Institutions Policy,” Jaber added.

For her part, WHO Representative to Jordan Maria Cristina Profili, added that “tobacco use is one of the main risk factors of non-communicable diseases, accounting for almost 80 per cent of all deaths in Jordan.”

Profili underlined that “one of the most cost-effective and proven WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control measures to combat tobacco use is to enforce 100 per cent smoke-free public places”.

“As health care professionals, we should be the first ones to lead by example and by implementing the law in all health care facilities.”

The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Jordan Anders Pedersen underlined “the importance of tobacco control for Jordan to promote healthy lives and the well-being of all and at all ages, in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 3 of the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

All stakeholders have the responsibility to help overcome the alarming tobacco epidemic that threatens economic growth, sustainable development, and the lives of millions of men, women and youth in Jordan.

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