Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 September 2019

Number of UAE smokers packing in tobacco doubles, ministry says

The Ministry of Health and Prevention said it is continuing to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco use

Indian students took part in a rally ahead of World No Tobacco Day in Hyderabad. AFP    
Indian students took part in a rally ahead of World No Tobacco Day in Hyderabad. AFP    

The number of smokers who kicked the habit in the Emirates doubled in the space of two years, a UAE ministry said.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) revealed the amount of people ditching tobacco products rose 122 per cent from 2016 to 2018.

Smoking cessation clinics in the Emirates recorded a 47 per cent increase in visitors in the same period.

The ministry released the encouraging statistics to mark World No Tobacco Day, held annually on May 31.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the theme of this year's event is tobacco and lung health.

The global body is aiming to raise awareness of the potentially deadly impact of smoking on the lungs, including the risk of developing cancer and chronic respiratory disease.

Dr Hussein Abdel-Rahman Al-Rand, an under-secretary at the ministry, said the UAE is determined to reduce tobacco use and highlight the stark consequences of lighting up for the next generation.

"MoHAP has adopted the best international practices in this regard, including the establishment of 16 smoking cessation clinics, in addition to a plan for expanding and further supporting the service in the coming years," he said.

The ministry is conducting several awareness campaigns on the hazards of smoking.

Tobacco use claims the lives of more than eight million people across the globe every year, according to WHO.

Seven million deaths are as a result of direct tobacco use, with another 1.2 million dying due to second-hand smoke exposure.

A tobacco conference held in Dubai last month heard that numbers of cigarette smokers in the UAE is on the decline.

An expert told the World Tobacco Middle East event that cigarette sales now account for less than 90 per cent of the tobacco industry.

Ivan Genov, a drinks and tobacco analyst at Euromonitor International, said growth in the industry will be "difficult" in the years to come.

Mr Genov's gloomy forecast came as a national health survey revealed the number of smokers in the UAE has declined from 11.1 per cent in 2010 to 9.1 per cent.

“For the first time, we have noticed cigarettes are now below 90 per cent volume of the tobacco industry and this is going down,” said Mr Genov.

The global cigarette market is still worth $699 billion (Dh2,500bn), with the average cost of a pack of 20 at $2.58 (Dh9.50).

Updated: May 31, 2019 03:28 PM