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16.3% of cancer cases related to smoking
KUWAIT CITY, May 18: Health experts have warned about the high rates of smoking in the country, especially among adolescents and young adults, reports Al-Qabas daily. During a press conference held by the Kuwait Society for Combating Smoking and Cancer, the experts revealed that the rate of smoking among school students in Kuwait has risen to 29 percent, according to recent studies, and the rate of smoking cigarettes and shisha among university students is 46 percent. They explained that about 16.3 percent of cancer cases are related to smoking cigarettes and shisha. The top smoking-related cancer is lung cancer, followed by bladder cancer, and then colorectal cancer. On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), the experts stressed that the spread of smoking in Kuwait poses a great threat to the health of citizens, and significantly impedes the process of healthy development.
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Kuwait Society for the Prevention of Smoking and Cancer Dr. Khaled Al-Saleh highlighted a previous study published in the American Library, which showed that those who practiced smoking in their lives in Kuwait amounted to 49.9 percent among men and 4.4 percent among women, and the number of smokers who continued to smoke in Kuwait reached 39.2 percent among men and 3.3 percent among women.
The study conducted in the GCC countries, including Kuwait, on the link between smoking and cancer revealed high rates of cancer among smokers. In this regard, a member of the Board of Directors of the Kuwait Society for Prevention of Smoking and Cancer and a member of the National Anti-Smoking Program Dr. Hessa Al-Shaheen affirmed that smoking in Kuwait has become a direct danger to families, especially after the spread of the electronic cigarette, and the misconception about its non-dangerousness. She said studies have shown that the risk of smoking increases among university students, as a study published in 2020 revealed that smoking cigarettes and shisha among university students in Kuwait is 46 percent, while it is 42.3 percent in Saudi Arabia. A comparative study revealed that the percentage of smoking among primary education students in Kuwait, which amounts to 29 percent, compared to the Sultanate of Oman where it amounts to 9.3 percent. This reflects the seriousness of smoking and its spread among adolescents, as well as the need to intensify educational programs for spreading health education among young people. The study ended with a conclusion about the need to start health education in Kuwait to combat the use of tobacco in all its forms among students.
Meanwhile, Dr. Maryam Al-Otaibi, a member of the Board of Directors and the supervisor of the smoking cessation clinic at the Kuwait Society for Prevention of Smoking and Cancer, stated that the total number of patients at the clinic, which reopened in June 2021, reached 325 patients of both sexes and ages. Also, health professionals highlighted that smoking is no longer a masculine behavior, as there is an increase in the number of female smokers. In a related context, educational sources warned of the danger of the smoking phenomenon spreading among male and female students in public and private schools. They stressed the need to develop quick solutions to reduce this dangerous societal scourge. The sources indicated that it is difficult to control or limit the number of smokers in every school, especially in light of the spread of electronic cigarettes, something that has become a fashion trend among young people and students in schools due to the ease of carrying it, the lack of smell, and the low financial cost. They said the toilets in schools are the main refuge for smokers, both male and female. The sources warned them against smoking and against considering it as a normal behaviour.
They called for updating legislation and tightening family control to support education efforts. The sources also affirmed the keenness of all school administrations to confront the scourge of smoking inside schools. Penalties are imposed on students who smoke if caught, which may reach suspension from school for several days. However, these procedures and penalties do not seem to reduce the percentage of smokers among students, but rather confine them inside schools, and the students smoke cigarettes as soon as they leave school, despite their young age.
In this regard, the Ministry of Health launched an awareness campaign on the harmful effects of tobacco to health and the environment. The campaign’s slogan is “We need food, not tobacco”, which is this year’s theme of World Health Organization (WHO) and public health champions around the world on the occasion of the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). The Deputy head of the National Anti-Smoking Program Dr. Ahmad Al-Shatti explained that there is continuous work to reduce the number of smokers because of its negative effects on human health. There are plans to reduce the number of victims of diseases related to the heart, arteries, lungs, and blood pressure through a systematic approach. It is a collective responsibility that it shares with the media, the Ministry of Education, and legislators.
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