The struggle to stop the increasing number of smokers is being hindered by the ease with which they may reach tobacco products.
A study demonstrated that 40% of teens between the ages of 13 and 15 are current smokers, higher than five years ago with 24%.
In order to fight against this habit Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE (United Arab Emirates) set the age when it is allowed to buy tobacco products and also vested vendors with the right to ask for evidence.
A lot of teens state that they continue to buy cigarettes with no trouble despite a new regulation.
Jaime a 17 year student said that he is a regular smoker who started to smoke at the age of 14 and has never been asked to present evidence when buying cigarettes. Jaime decided to show how easy it was for him and his friends to buy cigarettes. Purchasing tobacco products from small stores was never a problem.
However big supermarkets were stricter, after going in one of such supermarkets, Jaime came out without cigarettes.
“They asked me how old I was, I told them that I was 18, but they asked me to present evidences,” he said.
Shisha cafes that are currently popular among teens are also more careful in this matter.
“The majority of cafes would ask how old you are and in case they do not believe they ask for proof,” said Jaime.
“Not all teens can afford to smoke cigarettes, others smoke dockha,” Jaime said.
Dokha is mixture of Iranian tobacco, aromatic leaf and bark herbs. Jaime and his friends showed a place where teens often buy dockha.
Speaking about the relationship between the teens and the vendors at this particular place, Jame’s friend said it was friendly.
“They are always happy to see us, and when we buy dockha they always gave us a bottle of cherry juice for free,” he said.
Dr Salim Adib, the public health manager, said that monitoring the sales of dockha has proved difficult.
“It is a rather complicated situation since the tobacco used in dockha is not imported in pre-formed packages, as cigarettes and shisha. Our department is focusing on a special plan related to this particular aspect of tobacco consumption in our country,” stated Dr. Adib.
Dr Adib stated that their action plan for dockha control involved creating a research team in order to analyze the chemical composition of dockha products so that they might be compared with tobacco products.
Also they plan to create a campaign which will educate people about the dangerous consequences of dockha consumption.
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