US $70 m smoked an­nu­ally

Some 40% of Kurds smoke

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

De­spite the fact that there are no of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics, in­for­ma­tion avail­able to the Kur­dish Globe shows that the value of the cig­a­rettes im­ported into the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion ev­ery year is in the re­gion of US$ 70 mil­lion.

Sta­tis­tics pro­vided by the Smok­ing Erad­i­ca­tion Union in­di­cate that be­tween 35% and 40% of the pop­u­la­tion are smok­ers.

Smok­ers in Kur­dis­tan range from very young teens to very el­derly peo­ple, a fact that has turned the re­gion into a boom­ing mar­ket for cig­a­rettes, where a pack costs be­tween IQD 500 (ap­prox­i­mately US$ 0.40) and IQD 6,000 (ap­prox­i­mately US$ 5).

Ac­cord­ing to Ab­dul­wahid Mo­hamed, a cig­a­rette dis­trib­u­tor in the Er­bil Cig­a­rette Mar­ket, more teens and youths are start­ing to smoke, and huge amounts of cig­a­rettes are dis­trib­uted from the Mar­ket ev­ery day.

Sameer Sar­dar, who has been smok­ing for ten years, says he smokes more than usual when he feels sad or tense.

Stud­ies have long since dis­cov­ered that cig­a­rettes con­tain nico­tine, which leads to ad­dic­tion and makes it dif­fi­cult for smok­ers to quit smok­ing. When a smoker does not smoke for a while, the amount of nico­tine in their body de­creases, leav­ing them feel­ing anx­ious and in need of a cig­a­rette to in­crease the amount of nico­tine in their body and re­lieve their anx­i­ety.

Fight­ing Smok­ing

The Par­lia­ment of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion passed a law in 2007 ban­ning smok­ing in pub­lic places and re­quir­ing all cig­a­rette pack­ets to bear printed health warn­ings in both Kur­dish and Ara­bic.

Al­though smok­ing has al­most stopped in cer­tain pub­lic places, such as govern­ment of­fices and pub­lic trans­port, the law has never re­ally been en­forced. As a re­sult, not a sin­gle per­son has ever been fined for smok­ing in a pub­lic place, and the ma­jor­ity of cig­a­rettes still do not carry health warn­ings.

Dr. Khalis Qadir, an of­fi­cial spokesper­son for the Min­istry of Health, ar­gues that there are no good and bad cig­a­rette: “All kinds of cig­a­rettes are equally harm­ful, and all of them con­tain harm­ful ma­te­ri­als.”

Cig­a­rette im­port li­censes are easy to get in Kur­dis- tan, and any mer­chant who wants to im­port cig­a­rettes is given an im­port li­cense for six months without any ad­di­tional con­trols over the qual­ity or quan­tity of the cig­a­rettes im­ported.

The Gen­eral Direc­torate of Im­port and Ex­port at the Min­istry of Trade and In­dus­try was un­able to pro­vide any sta­tis­tics about the amount or value of Kur­dis­tan’s cig­a­rette im­ports.

Health sta­tis­tics

Al­though most coun­tries world­wide gather ac­cu­rate sta­tis­tics record­ing deaths caused by smok­ing, both as a tool for dis­suad­ing smok­ers and for use in plan­ning and de­ci­sion-mak­ing, no such sta­tis­tics are avail­able in Kur­dis­tan. Here, those who die due to smok­ing are nor­mally reg­is­tered as vic­tims of lung dis­ease.

A re­cent sur­vey by the Healthy Life Or­ga­ni­za­tion found that 32% of physi­cians, 3% of re­li­gious fig­ures and 18% of women in Kur­dis­tan smoke.

De­spite these facts and fig­ures, the govern­ment does not seem to be do­ing any­thing to curb the num­ber of smok­ers in Kur­dis­tan, whose num­bers are swell-

ing on a daily ba­sis.

World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion re­port

Ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent WHO re­port, around 5 mil­lion peo­ple die ev­ery year due to smok­ing. Ad­di­tion­ally, a fur­ther 600,000 non-smok­ers fall vic­tim to cig­a­rettes as pas­sive smok­ers who in­hale oth­ers’ smoke.

The re­port also reveals that the num­ber of smok­ing-re­lated deaths is ex­pected to rise to 10 mil­lion by the year 2020.

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