Roufan Nahhas, based in Jordan, has been covering cultural issues in Jordan for more than two decades.

  • Jordan embarks on aggressive anti-smoking campaign , On: Sun, 18 Jun 2017

  • Jordan gearing up for another Ramadan with refugees, On: Sun, 28 May 2017

  • Amman to celebrate status as ‘capital of Islamic culture’, On: Sun, 28 May 2017

  • Jordan looks for new answers to refugee crisis, On: Sun, 07 May 2017

  • I AM, an exhibition by Arab women artists, On: Sun, 07 May 2017

  • Aqaba — Jordan’s ‘Bride of the Red Sea’, On: Sun, 30 Apr 2017

  • Halla Walla: First Arab-inspired emojis app, On: Sun, 23 Apr 2017

  • Biographer seeks to preserve memories of Palestinians, On: Sun, 16 Apr 2017

  • Jordan’s ‘City of Mosaics’ struggling to preserve its heritage, On: Sun, 09 Apr 2017

  • Nike hijab for Muslim athletes welcomed, criticised, On: Sun, 26 Mar 2017

  • Jordan’s water shortage made worse by refugee crisis, On: Sun, 19 Mar 2017

  • Arabic tech-term translation app in the works, On: Sun, 05 Mar 2017

  • Controversy in Jordan over its two-tier minimum wage system , On: Sun, 26 Feb 2017

  • Jordan’s anti-ISIS Syria air strikes send a message home, On: Sun, 19 Feb 2017

  • Obesity a major health problem in Jordan, On: Sun, 19 Feb 2017

  • Jordan alarmed by rising familicide, On: Sun, 12 Feb 2017

  • Terror, taxes hinder Jordan tourism sector, On: Sun, 22 Jan 2017

  • Arab women to take part in North Pole expedition, On: Sun, 18 Dec 2016

  • Jordan Trail is an adventure through history and culture, On: Sun, 18 Dec 2016

  • Begging an alarming phenomenon in Jordan, On: Sun, 11 Dec 2016

  • Jordanians divided on educational reform, On: Sun, 09 Oct 2016

  • UNESCO World Heritage site, Jordan’s Um er-Rasas seeks recognition, On: Sun, 02 Oct 2016

  • Jordan’s breathtaking Valley of the Moon, On: Sun, 28 Aug 2016

  • Ailing Jordanian orphan teen is inspiration to others, On: Sun, 21 Aug 2016

  • What lies ahead for Syrian refugees in Jordan? , On: Sun, 21 Aug 2016

  • Jordanian election a step towards new power-sharing system, On: Sun, 14 Aug 2016

  • Jordan’s Jerash festival marks 31st year despite regional turmoil, On: Sun, 14 Aug 2016

  • Jordan academy helps blind would-be painters, On: Sun, 03 Jul 2016

  • Amman’s Restaurant of Mercy opens to all faiths, On: Sun, 03 Jul 2016

  • Jordanians celebrate Ramadan with 1.4 million refugees , On: Sun, 05 Jun 2016

  • Jordan baptism site magnet to visitors, On: Fri, 18 Dec 2015

  • Terrorism-induced violence a menace to young minds, experts warn, On: Fri, 11 Dec 2015

  • Life is a struggle for Mideast refugees in Europe, On: Fri, 27 Nov 2015

  • EU helps Jordan adapt to renewable energy, On: Fri, 27 Nov 2015

  • The many treasures of Jordan’s Dead Sea, On: Fri, 27 Nov 2015

  • Women Arab sport drivers racing v taboos, On: Fri, 13 Nov 2015

  • Preserving Jordanian handicraft, On: Fri, 06 Nov 2015

  • Jordan auto museum exhibits royal collection, On: Fri, 06 Nov 2015

  • Amman: A city with two downtowns, On: Fri, 16 Oct 2015

  • Jordan embarks on aggressive anti-smoking campaign

    Almost 50% of under 18 and 29% of the adult population in Jordan are smokers.

    Trendy but unhealthy. Men smoke traditional water pipes at an outdoor cafe in Amman. (AFP)

    2017/06/18 Issue: 111 Page: 22

    Amman - Smoking has been linked to thousands of deaths in Jordan every year, statis­tics from the Directorate of Awareness and Health Edu­cation at the Ministry of Health, re­leased to coincide with the launch of a nationwide anti-smoking cam­paign, state.

    The aggressive campaign ban­ning smoking in public places mainly targets young Jordanians with a special focus on school and university students, almost 50% of whom are smokers, in a country where 29% of the adult popula­tion smokes. It is promoted with support from the World Health Or­ganisation (WHO) and civil society organisations.

    “Definitely, we need a huge cam­paign to deter young people from smoking as this phenomenon is be­coming a true disease affecting the health of the youth, as young as 14 if not younger, and those around them,” said Dr Saliba Emseeh, a general practitioner.

    “It breaks my heart when I see kids as young as 9 or 10 smoking cigarettes and youth from both sexes sitting at a café enjoying a sh­isha without realising the damage it causes to their health.”

    Ministry of Health statistics, re­leased in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day, indicate that 11.4% of young people 13-15 years old smoke cigarettes and 26.7% smoke shisha. Overall, 9.3% of all Jorda­nians smoke shisha. The ministry said that smoking is blamed for the death of one of every eight Jordani­ans.

    Emseeh said the anti-smoking campaign would not stop young people from smoking in public places even though the ministry had appointed 566 officers to over­see the implementation of the new­ly amended Public Health Law.

    The law, which prohibits smok­ing in public and closed places, car­ries penalties up to three months in prison and a maximum fine of $280. Selling tobacco to people younger than 18 and allowing smokers to use public facilities could be pun­ished by up to nine months in pris­on and fines ranging $1,400-$4,220.

    The amendments, introduced in line with Jordan’s National Tobacco Control Strategy 2016-18, constitut­ed a pivotal shift in Jordan’s efforts to curb smoking. It is supported by WHO and King Hussein Cancer Foundation Centre.

    WHO projected the tobacco con­sumption rate among Jordanians would reach 50% by 2025. Globally, tobacco use will cause nearly 6 mil­lion deaths per year.

    Salem (not his real name), 14, comes from a family of smokers and he blames his parents for his addiction which he says makes him “look cool.”

    “I am already a smoker at home since my parents smoke a lot so it is a normal thing that I try it and I like it,” he said. “Some of my friends smoke, too, and at school we sneak out for a cigarette and it is some kind of bonding among friends. I find it very helpful when I need to relax.”

    “I am sure that smoking hurts your body but what to do now that I am hooked on it and maybe, and that is a big maybe, I will stop when I grow older,” he added.

    The ministry said second-hand smoke affects 62% of children aged 13-15 years.

    “Smokers still believe that they cannot hurt people around them and this is a problem,” said Samer Attiyah. “Both my wife and I are smokers but we smoke outside the house. We tried several times to stop without success. I think we are too old to stop now.”

    The Association Tobacco Free Jordan, a group of Jordanian citi­zens concerned about the risks of second-hand smoking and tobacco addiction, said second-hand smoke is a cause of premature birth and serious cardiovascular and respira­tory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer.

    Women in Jordan are hooked more on smoking shisha, including taking their own shisha with them everywhere they go.

    “I carry my little shisha when I visit my friends and we have our shisha session. The shisha is a good way to enjoy a gathering more than cigarettes and it even smells better. I don’t think there is a problem with enjoying a shisha twice a week,” said Lubna Abeddayem, 28.

    “Of course, there are many fe­males who smoke publicly and oth­ers secretly due to society issues. Who can forget an incident last year when a Jordanian husband di­vorced his wife because she did not want to quit shisha? I still think it is a personal choice whether to smoke or not.”

    Jordan’s Anti-Smoking Society said Jordanians spend around $650 million a year on cigarettes.

    The Jordanian government this year raised the tax on cigarettes by $0.64 to $1.70, a move hailed by anti-tobacco activists but scorned by smokers.

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