Jabak launches strategy against smoking, calls for doubling tobacco prices, severe restrictive measures against facilitating underage smoking

Public Health Minister Jamil Jabak launched Saturday his Ministry’s national strategy to combat smoking in a ceremony hosted by the Municipality of Jdeideh-Sad El Baouchrieh, in attempt to cut down on smoking risks marking the “World No Tobacco Day”.

In his word on the occasion, Jabak pointed to “the fight against smoking that has reached great extents in various countries of the world, while we in Lebanon are unable to achieve this.”

He said he was ashamed when he found himself forced to respond to questions raised at the World Health Organization (WHO) General Assembly in Geneva on Lebanon’s ban on smoking. “I am sorry to claim civilization while we are unable to enforce the laws, starting with the law on banning smoking and its negative consequences, while the Ministry of Health incurs an annual cost of at least 200 million dollars for medicines for incurable diseases…,” he added.

“Lebanon is one of the first countries in the world where cancer of the bladder, lungs and esophagus is spreading, and the rate of this cancer in the last decade has increased threefold, based on statistics by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC),” regretted Jabak.

In this connection, the Health Minister outlined the following essential measures that must be taken to combat smoking:

– Implementing Article 13 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and its guidelines for a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship

-Implementing the relevant Lebanese laws issued in the years 1995 – 2007 – 2011 – 2012, all of which warn against the dangers of smoking, placing conditions on its manufacturing and import and a high fine on anyone who fails to comply

– Doubling the prices of tobacco, stressing that the security forces are capable of preventing smuggling in the same manner as protecting the borders, which is of great importance in reducing the rate of smoking in Lebanon

– Prohibiting the free samples provision

– Forbidding any act of providing minors under 18 years with any tobacco products, stressing on tougher measures in this respect (far-reaching closure/very high fines on restaurants that allow smoking and hookah use for those under 18 years)

Jabbak underlined the necessity of using a binding method and activating proper supervision and permanent prosecution when it comes to the issue of smoking, which can only be possible with the constructive cooperation between the Ministry of Health and the Ministries of Economy, Interior, Tourism and Information, along with the support of the security apparatuses. He emphasized the need for promoting awareness and the application of laws against smoking.

Source: National News Agency