JEDDAH — Nearly 22 per cent of Saudis smoke Cigarettes with 25 per cent of them suffering from diabetes and 15 to 20 per cent experiencing high blood pressure, according to recent World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics.
"About 50 per cent of Saudis suffer from high cholesterol levels in blood and 36 per cent from obesity," the WHO said, and added that about 10 million of the Kingdom’s population suffers from at least three major factors that cause heart diseases. According to one report, six million people in the Kingdom spend around SR5 billion ($1.3 billion) annually on Cigarettes, smoking around 15 billion Cigarettes each year. A single Saudi on average smokes 2,130 Cigarettes in a year.
Dr Abdullah Al Badah, supervisor of the Anti-Smoking Programme at the Health Ministry, estimates there is a staggering 600,000 Saudi women smokers, with many of them in their teens. The Kingdom is also ranked 23rd among the largest tobacco consuming countries in the world.
Muhammad bin Marzouk Al Harithy, Director of the Charitable Society to Increase Public Awareness against Smoking and Drugs in the Makkah Region, said that nearly 23,000 people die in the kingdom each year as a result of tobacco-related diseases.
Dr Amer Radwi, consultant oncologist at the Princess Noura Oncology Centre at the King Abdulaziz Medical City in Jeddah, urged a nationwide campaign to Reduce the spread of smoking, especially among young men and women.
"We should target students at schools and universities as the majority picks up the habit before the age of 20," he said. He requested the government to enforce regulations to ban smoking in public places.
"Passive smoking is equally dangerous and deadly. Parents should not smoke inside their homes so as to protect their children and other family members from the hazardous effects of smoking," he said. Studies have proved that passive smoking each year causes thousands of deaths from lung cancer and heart diseases among healthy non-smokers.
Doctors say that people should abstain from smoking, do regular physical exercise, consume hygienic food, maintain moderate body weight and regularly check their blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels to avoid heart diseases. Despite the society continuing to frown upon the phenomenon of women smoking, and studies closely linking the shisha (hubbly-bubbly) to various diseases, including cancer of the mouth, Arab girls are enjoying it, and the number of female smokers is reportedly on the rise.
The hubbly-bubbly is now smoked in public and private places in the society as well as women-only areas. There are many who see the hubbly-bubbly as an harmless pastime and soon find they are addicted to the nicotine of the fruit-flavouRed tobacco.
According to one medical research, smoking the hubbly-bubbly is More hazardous than smoking Cigarettes. It causes headache, dizziness, blurRed vision, palpitations and it blocks air passages. Physicians have recommended a national campaign to combat smoking in all forms, particularly at home. Experts are particularly concerned about the harmful effects of the popular fruit-flavouRed tobacco. Fruit skins are fermented and treated with molasses or glycerin which, if burned with coal, forms the Acrolin poisonous substance that causes cancer, particularly of the bladder.