Updated-Stepped up efforts to control tobacco use in Syria, better protection of non-smokers

Damascus, SANA – On 31 May of every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners mark World No Tobacco Day. The theme of the WHO for this year is a call to stop the illegal trade of tobacco, that has become a growing international source of concern at all health, legal and economic levels.

Efforts to control the use and sale of tobacco products in Syria have been recently stepped up.

Syria was among the first countries that signed the protocol issued in Geneva on 2013 to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products, and the authorities concerned are currently working on depending this protocol, Assistant Health Minister Ahmad Khalifawi asserted.

Khalifawi, during a festivity organized by Ministry of Health in cooperation with World Health Organization (WHO) and the Non – Governmental Organizations (NGOs), pointed out that Syria had taken many legislative measures to fight tobacco products during the past years, including imposing ban on Tobacco direct marketing and promotion.

Resident Representative of the (WHO) in Syria Elizabeth Hoff , for her apart, hailed Syria’s rush to ratify the protocol concerned on eliminating illicit trade in tobacco product, asserting the organization’s keenness to cooperate with the Ministry of Health to raise the level of awareness among youths about Smoking hazards and to convey the messages which enhance  the official and local efforts in the fields of the economic and health problems  caused by smoking and their negative repercussions on society.

Tobacco direct marketing and promotion have been banned by the legislative decrees no.13 for 1996 and no.62 for 2009, with no cigarette advertisements being broadcast on media outlets at all, Head of the Healthcare Department of Damascus Countryside Health Directorate, Mohammad al-Tabba’, said in a statement to SANA.

The 2009 decree, al-Tabba’ added, has been more comprehensive in terms of it providing for the protection of non-smokers from negative smoking effects and calling for securing special places for smoking at all ministries and state establishments as well as at facilities, restaurants, cinemas and cafes, etc.

According to the figures provided by al-Tabba’, the number of smokers in Syria amounts to 4 million.

Based on surveys probing into the spread of smoking among people aged 13-15 during 2002, 2007 and 2010, a third of this category of people were found to be smokers, while the percentage of negative smokers reached 50 %.

Reem/H.Said/ Barry

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