In a bid to reduce the prevalence of smoking in Qatar, the country’s Cabinet is considering measures to increase taxes on cigarettes and raise penalties for those who flout public non-smoking signs.
Health experts say smoking in Qatar has reached “epidemic proportions.”
Indeed, according to one national study, residents purchase at least 1 billion cigarettes a year, and the annual smoking rate in Qatar is 12,000 cigarettes per person.
“The per capita consumption of cigarettes here is more than that in Europe, a renowned hub of smoking,” reports Mohamud Verjee, director of Primary Care and Clinical Skills at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar.
“What drives this is the low cost of cigarettes—the easy, seemingly consequence-free purchase of them. Yet the price in riyals is an illusion—the true price, the only real price must be calculated in years lost with a spouse, children, grandchildren and friends.”
But cigarettes are not the only problem Qatar has, Verjee says.
“A common pastime here in Qatar, shisha smoking is actually more dangerous than cigarette smoke—some studies show it to be several hundred times more dangerous. While cigarettes have filters to moderate the smoke, shisha smoke passes directly into the mouth, throat and lungs.”
With that in mind, Qatar is aiming to to reduce the rate of smoking among adult men by three percent, from the current 32 percent, by 2016.
In addition to making smoking more expensive, the country will launch an awareness campaign about the dangers of tobacco usage and up the number of available cessation services, the Peninsula reports.
It seems like Qatar’s strategy on tackling cigarettes is far more comprehensive than its plan for sheesha. What do you guys think?