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Anti-smoking drive shows results in Oman.

Muscat: Coming in at fifth place usually sounds unimpressive, but when it comes to tobacco consumption rate among GCC countries, it might be considered good news for Oman. The Executive Office of the Gulf Health Ministries recently released a report putting Yemen on top of the list of tobacco consumers in not only GCC, but also among all Arab nations. Saudi Arabia was second on the list followed by Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Oman. Qatar had the lowest tobacco consumption rate. The report showed that the consumption of tobacco involved less that 12.3 per cent of the Omani population. Ban on smoking either 'sheesha' or cigarettes in public places was among the issues raised by a municipal council member recently eliciting a huge response from the public. Places such as beaches, parks and bus stations were mainly targeted by the Muscat Municipality as they have a priority in imposing the ban once the recommendations are approved. Statistics released by the Ministry of Health showed that 70 per cent of Oman's residents suffered from some kind of ailment related to smoking. The municipality needs to take necessary steps to reduce tobacco use, said a Municipal Council member, adding that laws banning smoking in public places have had a positive impact on health, according to studies. An order issued locally which bans smoking in enclosed public places such as shopping malls, cafes and enclosed restaurants, is already in place. It was issued on October 31, 2009 and came into effect in April, 2010. The municipal council members have suggested extending the ban all over Oman, starting with the most congested public places with citizens and residents, especially families. Tobacco use According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco kills nearly six million people each year. More than five million of these deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030, according to WHO statistics. As it costs millions of rials to treat smokers, the municipal council is pushing for stricter regulations against smoking in public places. They have also been receiving complaints from citizens who do not like being forced to become passive smokers. Following the ban, the Muscat Municipality has been fining offenders between OMR100 and OMR300 for violating the ban. Smoking is already banned on all public transport services and enclosed areas, including government offices, health centres and hospitals, clinics and dispensaries, educational institutions, industries, commercial centres and markets, restaurants and coffee shops and clubs. To get in

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Jan 14, 2015
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