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‘Increasing prices of tobacco products vital’
KUWAIT CITY, April 18: Sabah Specialized Medical District Director and Vice-President of the National Program for Smoking Control Dr Ahmed Al- Shatti has unveiled the Ministry of Health’s plan to open 50 clinics for quitting smoking in primary health care centers and hospitals in the next five years — 10 clinics annually, reports Al-Jarida daily. Speaking to the daily, Al- Shatti disclosed the country spends about KD 419 million annually due to the direct and indirect effects of smoking — a huge burden on the State budget.
He stressed the importance of increasing the prices of tobacco products through the implementation of selective tax as soon as possible, indicating the rate of diseases caused by smoking in the country is very high. He added the imposition of tax on tobacco products in different countries has been proven to be effective in reducing the number of smokers.
He pointed out that the latest statistical reports on Kuwait, in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), showed that the percentage of adults who are smoking in the Kuwaiti society is 20.5 percent — 39.2 percent of whom are males and 3.3 percent are females; while 15.4 percent of adolescents in the age group 13 to 15 years old are smoking — 23.2 percent boys and 8.3 percent girls.
He disclosed that smoking is most common among the age group of 30 to 40 years old, followed by the age group 18 to 29 years old. He added the number of clinics dedicated for quitting smoking under the ministry currently stands at seven, emphasizing these clinics have strong infrastructure for helping people who want to quit smoking. He affirmed the ministry recently launched an extensive media campaign on stopping the consumption of all types of tobacco under the slogan, “Commit to quitting tobacco consumption during the Covid- 19 pandemic.”
He said this campaign targets all segments of society with the aim of educating them about the dangers of smoking. He also revealed that around eight million people die annually due to smoking — seven million due to direct smoking and one million due to passive smoking or forced smoking, asserting that eliminating smoking is the cornerstone of development in any country.