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Smoking in Jordan an ‘epidemic’, says Health Ministry official

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Jun 14,2023 - Last updated at Jun 14,2023

Around 9,500 people in Jordan die every year due to smoking, according to the Health Ministry (JT file photo)


AMMAN — Around 9,500 people in Jordan die every year due to smoking, according to Head of the Directorate of Health Awareness and Media at the Health Ministry, Ghaith Owies.

The overall smoking rate in Jordan is 42 per cent, Oweis told Al Mamlaka TV on Tuesday. 

Oweis described smoking in Jordan as an “epidemic”, costing the economy around JD1.6 billion per year. 

According to the latest statistics, 66 per cent of men and 25 per cent of children between the ages of 13 and 15 in the Kingdom are smokers, he noted.

The rate of use of e-cigarettes is 16 per cent among men and 3 per cent among women, he added. 

Pulmonologist Mohammad Hassan Al Tarawneh noted that smoking rates in Jordan are “extremely worrying”. 

“Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, and increases the risk of oropharyngeal cancer, lung cancer, gastric cancer, pancreatic cancer and stomach cancer, to name a few,” he told The Jordan Times. 

Tarawneh added that smoking is the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a chronic inflammatory lung disease that is more common in patients over the age of 40.  

Its main symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pains, persistent wheezing and coughing with phlegm. It can also lead to more serious complications, including respiratory failure, he continued. 

Moreover, Tarawneh said that being exposed to second-hand smoke, “even for a short period of time”, increases the risk of various cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

“Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use, while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke,” according to the website of the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

Tarawneh pointed out that smoking poses various economic burdens on both individuals and governments; “for example, the medical devices and medicines required to treat and manage cancers and chronic respiratory diseases are extremely expensive”. 

He also stressed the importance of curbing the proliferation of advertisements for tobacco products on social media platforms, especially e-cigarettes, as it represents a violation of Jordan’s Public Health Law. 

Article (54) of the Public Health Law No.47 of 2008 states: “No person or public or private entity, including the media, may print, display or publish any advertisement to promote any tobacco products or distribute any brochure, tools or materials to introduce it or advertise its products”. 

He added that claims which promote e-cigarettes as “smoking cessation aids” should be legally addressed, as they are “false and misleading”. 

Tarawneh cited a study recently published in the Medical Journal of Australia, which found that there are over 240 chemicals in non-nicotine e-cigarettes, at least 38 of which were listed as “poisons” and 27 were associated with “adverse health outcomes”. 

He also noted the coinage of a new medical term for the lung disease that can develop as a result of vaping, “EVALI, which stands for E-cigarette, or vaping product, use-associated lung injury”. 

He explained that the disease is marked by the appearance of various respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath, coughing and chest pain. 

The Ministry of Health offers smoking cessation services in health centres, distributed across all governorates and listed on its official website. 

The Ministry of Health’s hotline number for counselling and smoking cessation services is (06/5004546). The hotline number for complaints concerning violations of the Public Health Law No.47 for 2008, which prohibits smoking in public spaces, is (06/5004545, extension 5), according to its website. 

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