Bahrain: Campaign To Curb Tobacco Use Gains Momentum

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The Health Minister yesterday chaired the National Committee for Tobacco Control meeting to discuss the latest awareness drive initiated by the committee to curb smoking and use of tobacco among people, especially the school students.

The official stressed the importance of exerting more efforts to increase community awareness about the harmful effects of smoking, highlighting the need to launch awareness programmes based on creativity and innovation with the involvement of various stakeholders and individuals in the community.

The Bahrain Anti-Smoking Association had earlier strongly rejected the proposal on cultivating tobacco in the Kingdom, stating that it is a clear violation of the UN Convention on Tobacco Control. The Kingdom’s authorities wanted to allow the planting and production of tobacco, as well as the commercial production of alternative nicotine substances – such as vape juice, according to various reports.

Authorities have already drafted legislation that would enable tobacco companies to set up commercial operations here. In a statement presented to House of Representatives Speaker the association said: “The association was founded to combat smoking habits in the Kingdom. We are totally hurt by the decision.”

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“The proposal discussed in the parliament is against World Health Organisation’s regulations and rules on controlling use of tobacco. “We are carrying out an awareness campaign against the use of tobacco and whatever happening now is contradicting our efforts.”

Echoing a similar view, the Bahrain Society of Physicians has also warned against the move, warning that the call for tobacco cultivation would adversely affect health achievements. The President of the Society said that the Kingdom has made great strides in the field of promoting public health and goes against the Kingdom’s health strides.

The doctor pointed out that the Kingdom is one of the first GCC countries to issue a law banning smoking in indoor areas to implement the Kingdom’s health policy to combat smoking and preserve the safety of citizens and residents from the danger of secondhand smoke.

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“As doctors, the first question we ask the patient is whether he smokes or not, because we are more aware of the dangers of smoking on the respiratory system, veins, arteries, heart, colon, skin and all organs and functions. How can we convince a patient to stay away from smoking when he sees that his country is growing tobacco?”

As called for in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Governments must comprehensively enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship at international expos and conferences, in order to ensure their events and programmes are tobacco free and that their activities and participants are not sponsored by tobacco companies.

The world must unite to halt the tobacco industry’s aggressive marketing of its products, that cause addiction, suffering and millions of deaths each year, the World Health Organisation recently stated.

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