Jordan: Industry Blamed For High Smoking Rates

    Photo: ZEBULON72 from Pixabay

    Jordan’s exceptionally high smoking rates have been exacerbated by the influence of the tobacco industry, according to a recent article in The Guardian.

    With 60 percent of Jordanian men and 17 percent of women smoking, the country’s smoking rate is now the world’s highest, surpassing that of Indonesia, which was long considered to have had the world’s highest tobacco usage.

    More than eight out of 10 Jordanian men smoke or regularly use nicotine products including e-cigarettes, according to a government study carried out in 2019 in collaboration with the World Health Organization. Jordanian men who smoke daily consume an average of 23 cigarettes a day, the survey found.

    Critics attribute Jordan’s high smoking rates in part to the influence of Big Tobacco, which they say operates with fewer restraints in the kingdom than elsewhere.

    Tobacco company lobbyists have been accused of inappropriate involvement in shaping regulations on their products in Jordan.

    The Guardian cited minutes showing that lobbyists from British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Philip Morris International (PMI) attended a series of meetings last year to discuss standards for e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

    PMI and JTI said that it was normal and lawful for their companies to be consulted as stakeholders when relevant regulatory issues were being debated.

    “Our interactions with government officials in Jordan—like elsewhere—comply with all applicable laws,” PMI was quoted as saying.

    “In addition, we abide to our own international standards and practices which are stricter than many national laws. In any democratic society, the central objective of regulatory policy—ensuring that regulations are designed and implemented in the public interest—can only be achieved with full participation of those concerned.”

    Jordan ranked second in the world for tobacco company interference in government, according to analysis by a civil society group.