UAE | Health

14.6 per cent Dubai school students use tobacco

A survey reveals that 14.6 per cent students in Dubai schools use tobacco in some form

  • By Sharmila Dhal, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 September 30, 2010

Testing time
  • Image Credit: Xpress /Zarina Fernandes
  • Dr Hanan Ali Mubarak Obaid, right, conducts the smokerlyser test on a student at a campaign against smoking in schools

Dubai: It might come as a shock to parents and authorities but a survey shows that 14.6 per cent of students in Dubai schools consume tobacco products, XPRESS can reveal.

Interactive: The smoker's body

Preliminary findings of the survey, conducted by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), showed that 71 per cent of these students were cigarettes smokers, while 10.9 per cent used the shisha, 9.2 per cent the pipe, 1.9 per cent used the cigar and 1.1 per cent chewed tobacco.

The survey, a copy of which is with XPRESS, was conducted under the Tobacco Free Dubai (TFD) campaign between October 2009 and April 2010. It covered a total of 2,457 students. Aged between 11-19 , they were drawn from Classes VII-XII across 32 schools, including 21 private schools, in Dubai.

The survey cited several reasons as to why these children took to smoking: to get a feel of the experience, overcome ‘stress' or imitate others, especially if one of the parents was a smoker or just out of curiosity.

Dr Hanan Ali Mubarak Obaid, TFD Project Leader and Head of the Nad Al Sheba Health Centre, said, "It is very essential for parents to monitor their children's activities. Checking tobacco use is not just the task of the health authorities but also of parents."

She said many of the students who were found to be smokers were being counselled at the smoking cessation clinic at Al Twar. The TFD team was willing to counsel students at schools, provided families of these children gave their consent, she added.

She said smokerlyser tests were conducted during the survey to detect the level of carbon monoxide in the breath of the students. A few cases showed the levels were at No 3, considered a "danger zone" for non-smokers, she said, adding it also indicated low frequency smoking with addiction to nicotine already occurring or on the verge of taking place.

She said students were also asked to fill in pre-test and post-test questionnaires, with a presentation on the harmful effects of smoking made in between the two sessions. The aim was to assess their "knowledge, attitude and practice" towards smoking before and after awareness was created.

She said the TFD campaign, aimed at creating awareness on the harmful effects of smoking, was carried out in different phases to cover different sections of the population.

One of the phases targeted females in various women's associations and colleges, offering counselling services. In another phase, the campaign targeted employees in different organisations and covered 40 mosques in Deira and Bur Dubai, she said.

Dr Hanan said the PHCs [Primary Healthcare Centres] have updated their guidelines on tobacco management and developed clinic assessment formats. Smoking cessation packages were introduced and cessation clinics launched during the year, she said.

Comments (2)

  1. Added 16:49 September 30, 2010

    Congratulations Dr Hanan (Young Smokers, page 4)! Please send your results to the UAE Health Ministry. Please also try to convince the authorities that smoking in restaurants is detrimental to everyone’s health. This is more so in case of non-smokers who have to inhale the foul smoke if they want to eat out. Last week, I went out with my friends to a restaurant to have dinner and had to become a victim of passive smoking as almost everyone there was enjoying the shisha. I shall never visit the restaurant again. If authorities are serious about the fact that smoking is injurious for health, then they should ban smoking in all public places, especially in food outlets and restaurants.

    Catherine Blackmore, Abu Dhabi, Afghanistan

  2. Added 00:14 September 30, 2010

    Being born and raised in Dubai and having attended six different high schools and also having recently graduated after five years in the university, I am certain that the figure of 14.6 per cent of student smokers in Dubai is misleading, as it appears to include girls as well who smoke a lot less than males. Taken separately, I am sure that the figure for boys smokers is far higher, possibly crossing 40 per cent.

    Seerwan Jafar, Dubai, United Arab Emirates