Mil­lions of dol­lars spent on cig­a­rette con­sump­tion re­gion­ally

Nearly 40% of Kurds smoke ac­cord­ing to a new sur­vey

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

Ac­cord­ing to new statis­tics, ap­prox­i­mately 35% to 40% of those liv­ing in Kur­dis­tan smoke, which costs US$ 70 mil­lion ev­ery year.

Statis­tics col­lected by the Kur­dis­tan As­so­ci­a­tion for Fight­ing Smok­ing shows that nearly 35% to 40% of the re­gion’s pop­u­la­tion smoke. This amounts to US$ 70 Mil­lion on an an­nual ba­sis ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey con­ducted in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion. The prices of a pack of cig­a­rette ranges from IQD 500 (ap­prox­i­mately US$ 0.42) to IQD 7,000 (ap­prox­i­mately US$ 6).

Un­for­tu­nately, those pur­chas­ing cigarettes are be­tween the ages of 12 year­sold and 80 years-old. There are no le­gal con­se­quences for shop-keep­ers who sell cigarettes to chil­dren. In most Euro­pean coun­tries, it is il­le­gal to sell cigarettes to those un­der the age of 18, and in some coun­tries the age re­stric­tion is ex­tended to 21 years-old. This pro­tects chil­dren from this un­healthy habit, which has detri­men­tal health con­se­quences.

Jamil Ahmed, a cig­a­rette whole­saler in the Cig­a­rette Mar­ket in Er­bil Down­town ex­plains that the de­mand for cigarettes are higher than ever be­fore. He said ‘The de­mand is ex­tremely high be­cause an in­creas­ing num­ber of young peo­ple are smok­ing’. This could be for many rea­sons, namely it is so­cially ‘ac­cept­able’ for young peo­ple to smoke, and ac­cess to cigarettes is very easy, with cheap packs be­ing sold at ev­ery cor­ner shop.

One of the reg­u­lar cus­tomers in the Cig­a­rette Mar­ket in Er­bil is Sarkar Samei, who has been smok­ing for more than ten years. He be­lieves smok­ing helps re­duce ten­sion, and ‘takes away mis­ery’. Med­i­cal ex­perts ex­plain that smok­ers even­tu­ally get ad­dicted be­cause of Nico­tine that is found in cigarettes, and their body craves for Nico­tine, con­se­quently causes ad­dic­tion.

The Kur­dis­tan As­so­ci­a­tion for Fight­ing Smok­ing has pushed for more reg­u­la­tion on cigarettes. They have cam­paigned on a con­sis­tent ba­sis, urg­ing the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Government (KRG) to tax cig­a­rette im­por­ta­tion, and fine those who smoke in pub­lic ar­eas. In United King­dom, smok- ing in pub­lic places such as restau­rants, pubs, and clubs were banned for pub­lic safety pur­poses. The ini­tia­tive has been suc­cess­ful so far, and im­pos­ing a sim­i­lar ban in Kur­dis­tan Re­gion will help re­duce cig­a­rette con­sump­tion.

The Kur­dis­tan Re­gion’s Par­lia­ment ap­proved a bill ban­ning smok­ing in pub­lic ar­eas, which is known as Law Num­ber 31 in 2007. Ac­cord­ing to Ar­ti­cle 5 of the law, par­lia­ment has banned smok­ing in pub­lic ar­eas, and im­poses fines on those who break the law. The bill takes fur­ther mea­sures to en­sure pub­lic safety by urg­ing gov­ern­men­tal bod­ies to is­sue health warn­ings on all cig­a­rette packs both in Ara­bic and Kur­dish, which is found in Para­graph 2 of Ar­ti­cle 5. How­ever, since the pass­ing of this law, no pre­ven­tive ac­tion has been taken by the Government, and there are no reg­u­la­tory bod­ies en­forc­ing this law. This law is only fol­lowed in some gov­ern­men­tal of­fices, and in­side lo­cal buses.

Dr. Jamil Rashid, Di­rec­tor of Plan­ning at the Min­istry of Health of KRG) ar­gues that there is noth­ing like a good or high qual­ity cig­a­rette. “All of them con­tain harm­ful ma­te­rial and hence are sim­i­larly un­healthy and harm­ful to smok­ers’ health,” stated Dr. Rashid.

There are no rules or reg­u­la­tions within the KRG Trade and In­dus­try Min­istry which reg­u­lates the im­port of cigarettes, and this in­cludes pro­vid­ing li­censes to those who im­port it. The Min­istry does not have com­pre­hen­sive data about cig­a­rette im­ports and its con­sump­tion. Traders who ap­ply for a li­cense within the Min­istry are able to re­ceive a li­cense for the du­ra­tion of six months, and a fixed value of im­ports.

Through­out the world, the num­ber of smok­ing-re­lated health is­sues, and deaths are recorded, in Kur­dis­tan re­gion this has not devel­oped. Con­se­quently, there are no statis­tics avail­able to warn peo­ple with, and cam­paign­ing ef­fec­tively for more strict laws against smok­ing have lacked sta­tis­ti­cal cred­i­bil­ity. Ac­cord­ing to KRG’s Health Min­istry a sig­nifi- cant num­ber of those who die due to smok­ing heav­ily are reg­is­tered as ‘lung disease-re­lated’ in their death cer­tifi­cates.

Smok­ing does not just harm those who smoke, but those around them too. This in­cludes their chil­dren, who are of­ten vic­tims of smok­ers, in­hal­ing sec­ond hand smoke, which is just as harm­ful as di­rectly smok­ing. Ac­cord­ing to World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) more than 5 mil­lion peo­ple die out of smok­ing ev­ery year and 600,000 more non­smok­ers be­come in­di­rect vic­tims of smok­ing.

A young boy smokes shisha (wa­ter­pipe) in an Er­bil Don­town Street.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Iraq

© PressReader. All rights reserved.