RIYADH: To coincide with the holy month of Ramadan and World No Tobacco Day on Wednesday, the Health Ministry has launched a campaign to save the lives of thousands of smokers in the Kingdom.
Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said his ministry has allocated a sizable budget to the campaign, adding that 70,000 Saudis die annually from smoking-related diseases.
“We can avert these deaths if preventive measures are taken in time,” he said, adding that smokers continue to smoke despite being fully aware of the harmful effects. “Any form of smoking, whether it is shisha or electronic smoking, is harmful to health.”
Meanwhile, the Kingdom has joined World Health Organization (WHO) members to mark World No Tobacco Day on Wednesday to foster public awareness of the dangers of tobacco. The theme this year is: “Tobacco, a threat to development.”
The King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center (KFSHRC) has shared the theme in online messages. The hospital said governments and the public should implement proposed measures by the WHO to promote health and development by confronting the global tobacco crisis.
Tobacco addiction is one of the leading preventable causes of death.
Tobacco kills more than 7 million people worldwide each year, according to the WHO.
The numbers of smokers and deaths from smoking in the Kingdom are rising fast, and smoking represents more than 80 percent of lung and throat cancer cases, according to the Health Ministry.
There are 160 anti-smoking clinics that provide awareness services, medical consultations and therapeutic services for free for smokers of both sexes to help them quit. The ministry is working on the development of fixed and mobile anti-smoking clinics.
Anti-smoking clinics in health care centers and hospitals in Riyadh have received more than 7,000 patients since the beginning of this year.
The price of a pack of cigarettes in Saudi Arabia will double due to a tax effective from June 11.