Sheikh Dr Mohamed bin Hamad al-Thani, director of Public Health, Supreme Council of Health, and other officials announcing the findings of the tobacco survey in Doha on Tuesday. PICTURE: Jayan Orma

By Joseph Varghese
Staff Reporter

Tobacco use among students in Qatar is on a steady increase.

The number of smokers in the 13-15 age group has gone up from 6.5% to 9.8%, marking an increase of 3.3% between 2007 and 2013, according to the latest Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) whose findings were released on Tuesday.

During this period, the percentage of smokers among boys has gone up from 13.4% to 14.9%, while the figure has more than doubled among the girls, from 2.3% in 2007 to 4.7 in 2013.

The GYTS survey in Qatar was conducted in 2013 by the Supreme Council of Health and Supreme Education Council.

A total of 2,109 students of grades 7-9 took part in the survey, of which 1,716 were aged 13-15. The overall response rate of students surveyed was 89.3%.

According to the survey, 15.7% of the students aged 13-15 used some tobacco products, out of which boys accounted for 22.8% and girls 8.8%.

The survey reveals that 18.4% boys and 6.2% girls currently smoke tobacco while 9.4% boys and 3.2% of girls use smokeless tobacco.

About six out of 10 smokers tried to stop smoking in the past 12 months while six out of 10 want to quit smoking.

The survey also finds that 24.2% of students were exposed to tobacco smoking at home while 47.9% students were exposed to tobacco smoke inside enclosed places.

Another finding of the survey is that 54.6% of current cigarette smokers bought cigarettes from a store, shop, street vendor, kiosk or cafeteria. Among the smokers who bought cigarettes, 56% were not prevented from buying them despite their young age.

The survey also shows that five out of 10 students have noticed anti-tobacco messages in the media while four out of 10 have noticed tobacco advertisements or promotions while visiting points of sale. Two out of 10 students own something with a tobacco brand logo.

About 53.8% of students thought that other people’s tobacco smoking was harmful to them, while 60.6% of students were in favour of banning smoking inside enclosed public places.

The GYTS, a component of the Global Tobacco Surveillance System (GTSS), is a global standard for systematically monitoring youth tobacco use - smoking and smokeless - and tracking key tobacco control indicators.

Related Story