Cash spent on smoking in Jordan could build eight hospitals

Tobacco use in the Middle East continues to be of particular concern and Jordan causes particular alarm

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Smokers in Jordan are spending a massive $717.1 million on tobacco every year - enough to build eight hospitals, The Jordan Times reported, citing Jordan National Anti-Smoking Society President Mohammad Shreim.

The widely frowned upon habit is at epidemic levels in the country. But - said Shreim - it is not yet considered a health priority and is not receiving enough attention as “a major threat to health and quality of life,” the report added.

Under Jordan’s public health law, there are areas where smoking is banned, including hospitals, schools, libraries, and non-governmental buildings. Offenders face fines and jail terms of up to one month.

Global tobacco use is predicted to kill 10 million people annually within the next three decades.

Tobacco use is the world’s second biggest cause of preventable deaths, it also poses a major economic burden, resulting from related treatment costs and a general lack of productivity as a result of ill health.

The dangers to health are well documented, ranging from cancer, heart disease, respiratory and fertility problems, and even impotence among men.

Yet tobacco use in the Middle East continues to be of particular concern and Jordan causes particular alarm.

While the number of male smokers aged between 13 and 15 has dropped slightly from 17.4 to 17.3 percent, and from 6.6 to 6.5 percent among females, health complaints continue to grow, the report added, citing statistics from the Health Ministry.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 20 percent of the nation’s school children - aged 13 - 15-years-old - have taken up the habit. And more than 34 percent of young people have tried smoking, with 26 percent having tried their first cigarette before they were 10-years-old.

As a result it is widely expected that the epidemic will soar with the number of smokers to more than double by 2050.

Non-smokers are being impacted too, the report added. Passive smoking is responsible for an increase from 53.6 percent to 65.4 percent in health complaints among those who choose to abstain.

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