Written By: Fares Anam
Article Date: Feb 15, 2011 - 8:04:38 PM
Yemeni teenagers are among at least a million of the country's 3.4 million cigarette smokers under 24, revealed statistics from a field survey published by the country's Central Organization for Control and Accounting.
The survey also confirmed that the ratio of the number of smokers in Yemen in relation to its population size is one of the highest in the world. Yemen has 3.4 million smokers and 29.2% of these are persons aged 17-24, according to the survey.
Yemenis annually smoke 6.4 billion cigarettes which equals 317.5 million packs of cigarettes. This means that they smoke 870,000 packs of cigarettes daily at an average cost of YR150 per box. Yemenis spend YR130.5-million on cigarettes per day.
Of particular interest are the reasons that Yemenis teenagers smoke. These include smoking during Qat sessions and curiosity. They also imitate adults, their parents or celebrities and this habit soon turns to addiction. Teenage boys also consider smoking to be a sign of maturity and manhood.
“I am not a child anymore. I am an adult now and I know what I am interested in,” explained a 13-year-old smoker, Hussam.
He said that he smoked his first cigarette two years ago. He now smokes a one-and-a-half boxes of cigarettes per day. He smokes more than two boxes when he chews Qat with his friends.
“I don’t taste the Qat if I didn’t smoke,” said Hussam.
Fathya Hamid, a social expert in Yemen, said that when teenagers start to smoke cigarettes they usually want to imitate their idols or parents.
“There is no control and monitoring by their families so this leads to increased smoking,” she added.
Smoking has also spread among male and female high school students, revealed the study. A recent study published by the Cancer Center at the University of Aden indicated that a total 37% of young men compared to 13% of young women smoke cigarettes.
Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that 12,000 Yemenis die annually from cancer as a result of smoking. The organization said that smoking is the second leading cause of death globally after hypertension or high blood pressure.
The WHO estimates that death from smoking would increase to 10 million by 2020 and 70% of these will be in developing countries.
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