Smoking is a significant public health issue in Qatar, not only for tobacco consumers themselves, but also non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke. Smoking is prevalent in Qatar, with many people smoking either cigarettes or traditional shisha pipes.
The 2012 STEPS survey identified that the prevalence of tobacco use within the Qatari population was 16.4%. Men were found to be 26 times more likely than women to use tobacco products (31.9% versus 1.2%). Additionally, the 2013 Global Youth Tobacco Survey on smoking prevalence in Qatar, identified that 15.7% of youths aged between 13 to 15 smoked tobacco. According to the Global Audit Tobacco Survey data, the exposure to second hand smoke in Qatar within restaurants, workplaces and households was:
- Restaurant precincts was 21.2% for men and 32.2% for women
- Workplaces was 13.8% for non-Qataris and 8.3% for Qataris
- Households at least once a month was 16.8% for both Qataris and non-Qataris
Law No. 10 of 2016 on Control of Tobacco and its Derivatives introduced a number of additional restrictions on smoking in closed public spaces, including whilst driving in the presence of children under 18 years. An extension of the ban on selling cigarettes within close proximity of schools or educational establishments, increased from 500 meters to 1 kilometer, while tougher restrictions were also extended on the promotion or advertisement of tobacco and its derivatives and tighter measures introduced for the importation of electronic cigarettes.
The health consequences of tobacco use are severe. According to the WHO, smoking kills half of all its users. Regular exposure to tobacco smoke, whether first hand or second hand, is directly associated with the development of ill health including cancer, heart disease, stroke and respiratory issues.
Tobacco cessation objectives
This strategy recognizes tobacco use as one of the most pressing health risks in Qatar. The Tobacco Cessation Objectives provide a comprehensive plan to reduce the number of smokers in Qatar and, therefore, decrease the associated burden of disease. The objectives focus on strengthening tobacco legislation, which includes enforcing and reinforcing existing public bans, and providing greater support to those smokers who wish to quit, but need help. The strategy recognizes the addictive nature of tobacco and for this reason the objectives target preventing people from ever taking up the habit.