Dr. Hanan Mohammed Al Kuwari
HE Minister of Public Health Dr. Hanan Mohammed Al Kuwari reiterated Qatar's commitment to building a tobacco-free future, as well as the country's remarkable achievements in tobacco control in light of its commitment to protecting the health and well-being of its citizens.
Addressing the meeting of the fifth anniversary of the Tobacco-Free Financing Pledge at the United Nations, which was held yesterday evening on the sidelines of the 2023 UN General Assembly in New York, with the main theme " There's no room for tobacco in a Net Zero world', Her Excellency outlined Qatar's achievements in tobacco control.
Her Excellency highlighted a number of milestones made by the State of Qatar in the field of tobacco control, most notably the significant reduction in tobacco use, as the percentage of youth using any tobacco products dropped from 20 percent in 2004 to 12.1 percent in 2018, aligning perfectly with the national target of a 5 percent reduction in smoking prevalence by the end of 2022, as stipulated in the second national health strategy to reduce smoking prevalence by 5 per cent by the end of 2022, reflecting the country's commitment to a more healthy and tobacco-free world.
Her Excellency said: "One of the main achievements in this regard is the establishment of a robust legal framework, as the State of Qatar endorsed and implemented the Tobacco Law approved in 2016 in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. This law prohibits tobacco agriculture and manufacturing within Qatar while allowing only the importation of traditional products. It also restricts tobacco-related businesses and trade, imposing a minimum distance requirement of 1000 meters from schools. Furthermore, we have banned smoking in closed public places and mandated graphic health warnings on tobacco packages." HE Dr. Hanan Mohammed Al Kuwari added: "Work has also been done to reduce the demand for tobacco through price increases, as the State of Qatar has established a comprehensive tobacco product taxation model, including customs and excise taxes. This resulted in a 100 percent increase in the price of all tobacco products. Additionally, we implemented tax stamps to enhance indirect tobacco product taxation and support tracking and tracing of tobacco products." Her Excellency stressed the country's interest in increasing awareness and behavior change, for which a national health awareness campaign has been launched targeting at-risk groups such as youth and workers.
"We have also been keen to provide standardized, quality, integrated and accessible tobacco cessation services, as tobacco cessation centers have been established in the public and private sectors, with 13 out of 31 primary healthcare centers in Qatar currently providing these services. In addition, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC's) Tobacco Control Center treats approximately 1,200 new patients each year, trains clinicians and specialists to ensure the best quality of care, promotes health awareness, conducts scientific evidence-based research, and utilizes innovative services such as laser therapy to help people stop smoking," Her Excellency said.
HE the Minister of Public Health added that hospital the selection of HMC Tobacco Control Centre as WHO Collaborating Center, further confirms Qatar's commitment to global tobacco control efforts.
"School-based surveys were also conducted in 2004, 2007, 2013 and 2018, as well as adult surveys in 2007, 2013 and 2023. Furthermore, in the current year, we have established a Tobacco Products Quality Control Laboratory to ensure that the specifications and safety of tobacco products meet the designated standards," HE the Minister of Public Health noted.
HE Dr. Hanan Mohammed Al Kuwari also spoke about the tobacco control policies implemented during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 , where the State of Qatar played a pivotal role in ensuring that the tournament was 100 percent tobacco-free. This included raising awareness about tobacco hazards, enforcing tobacco-free policies through trained volunteers and security personnel, and overseeing policy implementation while providing a report for future events. Our efforts in this regard received recognition and praise from the World Health Organization, and the global health community." The Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge 5-Year Anniversary Event at the UN highlighted financial institutions that have implemented tobacco-free financing policies and encouraged others to follow suit, as well as encouraging the finance sector to play an active role in addressing global priorities as defined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.