Over 35% of the population exposed to passive smoking in Morocco

World Smoking Day: Smoking is a real public health problem in Morocco. Prevalence is 13.4% among adults over 18 and 6% among schoolchildren aged 13 to 15.

Morocco, like other countries around the world, celebrated World No Tobacco Day on Wednesday May 31. This day is an opportunity to highlight the dangers associated with tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke. Smoking is a real public health problem. According to available data from the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, the prevalence of smoking is 13.4% among adults over 18, including 26.9% of men and 0.4% of women. Among schoolchildren aged 13 to 15, the figure is 6%.

Some 35.6% of the population is exposed to passive smoking in public and professional places. Smoking is also the cause of a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and bronchial cancer. According to the results of the 2021 assessment of the epidemiological and economic impact of smoking in Morocco, tobacco was responsible in 2019 for 74,000 prevalent cases of ischemic heart disease, and 4,227 new cases of lung cancer annually. Mortality attributed to tobacco in 2019 was 12,800 premature deaths. The annual economic cost of tobacco in Morocco amounted to over 5 billion dirhams in 2019, representing 8.5% of total health expenditure (SDR) and 0.45% of GDP. It breaks down into direct medical costs (60.9%), mortality (33.0%) and morbidity-related loss of productivity (6.1%). The results of an epidemiological survey on the prevalence of risk factors for non-communicable diseases carried out by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the WHO revealed that the average age at which tobacco consumption began was 19 (18.9 for men and 23.4 for women). The survey also showed that daily smokers smoked an average of 13.2 cigarettes a day.

This year, the World Health Organization has chosen “Grow Food, Not Tobacco” as the theme for World Tobacco Day, with a view to raising awareness among tobacco growers of the various possibilities for producing and marketing alternative crops, and encouraging them to opt for sustainable, nutritious crops. The WHO campaign encourages governments to end tobacco subsidies and use the savings to help farmers switch to more sustainable crops that improve food security and nutrition. The campaign also aims to raise awareness among tobacco-growing communities of the benefits of switching from tobacco to sustainable crops.

It is also about denouncing the industry’s efforts to hinder the search for sustainable livelihoods. The intensification of tobacco growing in Africa is a serious threat to food and nutritional security. Available data reveals that while the area devoted to tobacco cultivation has decreased by 15.7% globally, it has in contrast increased by 3.4% in Africa between 2012 and 2018. During this period, although tobacco leaf production fell by 13.9% worldwide, it rose by 10.6% in Africa. In recent years, tobacco cultivation has grown in Africa due to the existence of a regulatory framework more favorable to the tobacco industry’s activities and increased demand for tobacco. In a report published on May 31, 2022 entitled “Tobacco: poison for our planet”, the WHO revealed that every year, the tobacco industry is responsible for over 8 million deaths, the destruction of 600 million trees and 200,000 hectares of land, the loss of 22 billion tonnes of water and the emission of 84 million tonnes of CO2.

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