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Teens increasingly fall victim to lure of tobacco

By Rayya Al Muheisen - Nov 18,2021 - Last updated at Nov 18,2021

Smoking e-cigarettes, vapes, shisha (water pipe tobacco) and cigarettes has become a common trend among adolescents in Jordan, according to health professionals (File photo)

AMMAN — Smoking e-cigarettes, vapes, shisha (water pipe tobacco) and cigarettes has become a common trend among adolescents in Jordan, according to health professionals. 

The Jordan Times interviewed a group of teenagers, who were smoking near their school in Amman. 

“I smoked my first cigarette with my older cousin, we stole a cigarette from my uncle’s pack,” a 15-year-old boy said.

“We were curious to know how it tastes. Also we saw that everyone around us smokes, so we thought why not try,” he said. 

The boy said that he hated the taste of cigarettes at the beginning and it took him a couple of months to get used to the taste.

“Now I finish one pack a day,” Yazan concluded. 

Another 15-year-old boy said: “I never smoked cigarettes; I only vape, it tastes much better”. 

He added that vapes are much cheaper than cigarettes.

 “The most important thing is that I don’t have to worry about getting caught by my parents; vape leaves no smell,” he said. 

Peer pressure has the strongest influence on adolescent smoking, said Amal Mufti, an educational guide at a school in Amman.

 “They think it’s a magical tool to fit in,” she said. 

Mufti said that recently e-cigarettes and vapes have become more common among teenagers.

When children see adults, especially their parents or other family members, smoke they are more likely to smoke as well “because they will perceive smoking as a normal behaviour”, Mufti said. 

“I have seen children develop respiratory diseases from second-hand smoking,” Abdel Rahman Shaher, former respiratory physician at the Ministry of Health. 

There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, and even brief exposure can cause harm. Severe or fatal diseases, including heart disease, respiratory disease, and cancer can result from exposure to second-hand smoke. Non-smokers living with smokers are at greater risk of such diseases, Shaher added. 

Globally 38 million adolescents smoke, according to a WHO report on trends in in tobacco use, published on Tuesday. 

The most recent report on adolescent smoking in Jordan, “Global Youth Tobacco Survey” was conducted in 2014.

The report found that tobacco smoking rates among people aged 15 years and older in Jordan is 35.2 per cent, and is one of the highest rates worldwide. 

Tobacco consumption had claimed the lives of 9,027 Jordanians as of June, according to an infographic published on the Ministry of Health’s social media platforms.

Smoking rates in Jordan are some of the highest in the world. More than eight out of 10 men smoke or regularly use nicotine products including e-cigarettes, according to a Health Ministry study carried out in collaboration with the World Heath Organisation.

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