Some businesses in Qatar will honor World No Tobacco Day today by not selling cigarettes and related products in their stores.
That includes French supermarket Carrefour, which has several branches around the country.
Speaking to Doha News, a representative said that the stores will put up large signs that call attention to No Tobacco Day and encourage customers to not smoke.
Carrefour has been observing World No Tobacco Day by temporarily halting the sale of cigarettes for the past few years, according to Mohamed Jendoubi, a section manager at Villaggio’s Carrefour branch.
Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC) will also observe today by holding workshops and awareness campaigns for visitors and staff from 8am to noon, the Peninsula reports.
According to WHO, the goal of the day is to raise awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco consumption and help people kick their habits.
Smoking is a big problem in Qatar.
In 2012, government figures stated that one of every three people living here were addicted to smoking, with some going through more than 20 cigarettes a day.
Second-hand smoke is also an issue, which officials recently raised while discussing a new draft law that would increase the fine for smoking in closed public areas from QR500 to QR3,000, raise customs duties on tobacco products and increase spending on health education.
And last month, the Ministry of Public Health introduced a smoking hotline to report those who are found to be flouting indoor bans.
It also launched a squad of inspectors to start patrolling the most popular malls and fine people on-the-spot for the offense.
Plain packaging campaign
Today, Qatar is also supporting a global initiative being run by the World Health Organization called the plain packaging campaign.
The effort aims to make cigarettes unattractive to consumers, leading to a reduction in tobacco use.
In a statement, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon explained:
“As laid out in the UN tobacco control treaty, this entails restricting or prohibiting the use of logos, colors, brand images or any promotional information other than brand and product names displayed in a standard color and font.”
WHO is calling on all governments to implement this packaging on tobacco products in their respective countries.
Whether Qatar adopts the packaging remains to be seen.
However, it and other Gulf nations supported an earlier push to curb cigarette usage by mandating that graphic warning labels be placed on boxes.
In 2013, a senior health official said the packaging was working, as the government had gotten pressure from cigarette companies to remove the warnings.