The air pollution emitted by smoking is almost 10 times greater than diesel car exhaust. So, what is Qatar doing to tackle the threat?
Tobacco smoke pollution is ‘nearly non-existent’ in Qatar due to the lack of tobacco farming or manufacturing, according to the country’s Minister of Public Health.
Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari attributed the low smoke pollution to the strict measures authorities take to limit smoking, including prohibiting the act in all interior locations in Qatar, stadiums, and public facilities.
Authorities have also implemented a 100% tax on tobacco products in an effort to eliminate or limit smoking as part of the ministry’s sustainable development plan.
Dr Ahmed Al Mulla, Head of HMC’s Tobacco Control Center, said that visitors will notice an effective smoke-free atmosphere in public transit, malls, public and private institutions, schools, colleges, and stadiums. However the official called for a better procedure to dissuade people from throwing cigarette butts in the streets and parks.
The statements were made one day before the World No-Tobacco Day, which is observed annually on May 31. The World Health Organization (WHO)’s theme for this year is ‘Tobacco: Threat to our environment’ to shed light on the damage caused to the environment due to tobacco production, which includes its cultivation, manufacturing, smoking, and disposal of tobacco product waste.
How does smoking affect the environment?
Smoking causes environmental pollution by releasing toxic air pollutants into the atmosphere. Cigarettes also litter the environment, and the hazardous compounds in the residues penetrate into soils and streams, polluting both soil and water.
The air pollution emitted by smoking is almost 10 times greater than diesel car exhaust according to a controlled experiment by the Tobacco Control. Fine particulate matter, which is the most hazardous component of air pollution for human health, is produced by environmental cigarette smoke.
The industry also releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, contributing greatly to global warming.
Apart from the environmental threats, smoking imposes a significant threat to the person’s health, whether the person smoking or whoever is in close proximity. Those who consume tobacco are highly more prone to develop cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes.
In fact, most lung cancers are caused by smoking globally, but tobacco consumption can also cause cancer anywhere in the body.
For that reason, the Gulf nation has been mobilising efforts to eliminate tobacco use and limit its effect on the environment.
“Qatar has provided all necessary capabilities to help smokers quit this harmful habit through HMC’s Tobacco Control Center, a WHO Collaborating Center. We have also opened smoking cessation clinics in our primary health care centers as we believe that offering treatment for smokers can reduce health and economic burdens on them, their families, and on the entire health system,” Dr Al Kuwari added.
Doha has several tobacco control centres scattered across the country, including one in Al Wakra hospital and one in Hazm Mebaireek hospital.
The Hamad Tobacco Control Centre with Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City works five days a week, with further expansion of the services expected soon to cut waiting lists and help residents obtain early appointments.
The facilities offer innovative and cutting-edge treatments to assist smokers in quitting. One of these is the laser treatment technique, which is used to target certain places on the body. This helps to increase the secretion of a chemical in the body that decreases the desire to smoke.
Behavioral therapy, awareness campaigns, and other drug methods are provided in the clinics, depending on the patient’s needs to ensure the best outcome.
Qatar’s membership in the Global Convention on Tobacco Control and the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, as well as its active participation in the Conference of the Parties to the Framework on Tobacco Control, according to the health official, helps to limit the negative effects of smoking on the community and the environment.
She also added that the concerned parties will continue to work with local authorities in the future to ensure that all tobacco-control legislation and regulations are enforced in Qatar.