Health activists in Jordan are calling for stricter tobacco rules, given the country’s high rates of smoking-related diseases, according to The Jordan Times.
Smoking-related deaths in Jordan are estimated to be around 8,000 annually with high rates of cancer and hundreds of cases of chronic disease.
The smoking rate in Jordan is around 41 percent, according to recent studies. Jordanian households spend more on tobacco products than on food items, according to a World Health Organization study.
Smoking is defined by the WHO as a pandemic, according to Bassam Hijjawi, head of the Jordanian National Association for Smoking Control, who called for “stricter penalties” and more measures to reduce smoking.
Smoking cessation is low in the country despite the availability of 29 free specialized clinics for smoking cessation.
“Healthcare costs associated with smoking-related diseases impose a heavy burden on the healthcare system and contribute to limiting resources available for other health services as well as other important sectors such as education,” said economist Khaled Salameh.
“The statistics revealing the number of smoking-related deaths and the prevalence of chronic illnesses are alarming,” said Abdel Rahman Shaher, former health director at the Ministry of Health.
“Stricter regulations on tobacco sales, especially on e-cigarettes for underage individuals, is crucial,” Shaher said, noting that a multi-faceted approach to limit smoking must be prioritized.
“Social norms and cultural practices play a significant role in shaping individuals’ behavior, and smoking may be perceived as a socially acceptable or even desirable activity in certain contexts,” said sociologist Hussein Khuzai.
“To address this issue, comprehensive strategies should be implemented, including awareness campaigns, education about the health risks and addressing the underlying social and economic determinants that drive smoking behavior,” Khuzai said.