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Jordan tops global smoking rates

25 Jun 2020. Jordan has the highest smoking rates in the world, reports The Guardian.

According to a government study carried out in 2019 in collaboration with the World Health Organization, more than 8 out of 10 Jordanian men smoke or regularly use nicotine products including e-cigarettes.

The recent research shows that Jordan has surpassed Indonesia, which was long considered to have had the highest consumption of tobacco in the world. Even excluding e-cigarettes and other smokeless products, the research showed 66 per cent of Jordanian men and more than 17 per cent of women were smokers. Jordanian men who smoke daily consume an average of 23 cigarettes a day, the report said.

“The rates are dangerously high and a predictor of a future public health catastrophe,” said Firas al-Hawari, a physician and head of the cancer-control office at Amman’s King Hussein Cancer Center.

According to the report, industry analysts and public health advocates said that Jordan’s rates were exacerbated by the influence of big tobacco, which they said was allowed to operate with comparatively fewer restraints than in the UK – as is the case in many of the lower- and middle-income countries where the majority of the world’s smokers now live.

“These companies continue to exercise as much political power as they can in wealthy countries, but they’re more successful in lower-income countries where they face less transparency, can operate more in the dark and overwhelm whatever civic societies exist,” said Rima Nakkash, an associate professor of public health at the American University of Beirut.

Research funded by the UK government has found that smoking costs Jordan GBP 1.85 billion (USD 2.30 billion ) a year in healthcare and loss of productivity, the highest per capita figure in the world, outweighing the approximately GBP 1.03 billion (USD 1.28 billion) the industry pays in taxes, fees and wages to local workers, The Guardian reported.