The six member countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) are home to about four million smokers, a number that is increasing by 150,000 a year, according to a story by Habib Toumi for the Gulf News.
Smokers within the GCC, which comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, consume about 50 billion cigarettes annually.
And, according to Arabi Atta Allah and Majdi Ashoor, who were described as experts with the Qatar Supreme Health Council, this consumption level meant that the GCC incurred annual health care costs of $500 million.
“According to one study, up to 50 percent of the GCC students aged between 14 and 18 smoke regularly,” they said as they gave a lecture in the Qatari capital, Doha. “Around 25 percent started puffing at cigarettes when they were between 10 and 15 years old.”
“In the Arab world, the number of smokers has been steadily increasing, reaching 70 percent among males and 25 percent among females.”