Jordan launches 2016-18 tobacco control roadmap

In response to the alarming rates of smoking that are among the highest in the region, the Ministry of Health (MoH) – with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and King Hussein Cancer Foundation and Center (KHCF/KHCC) – recently completed the development and launch of a time-bound roadmap aimed at reversing the tobacco epidemic in Jordan.

With preparatory work spanning several months, the efforts culminated in a national meeting engaging more than 100 stakeholders representing national organizations. The meeting, held under the patronage of HRH Princess Dina Mired, Director General of King Hussein Cancer Foundation, brought stakeholders together with international experts to examine high-level components of the roadmap. Over the coming few months, MoH, KHCF/KHCC, and WHO will extensively consult with national stakeholders to further detail milestones agreed during this meeting.

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Tobacco continues to pose a major public health challenge in Jordan, which shoulders the highest prevalence of male smoking in the region – 60 percent of men smoke. One in eight Jordanians dies because of tobacco use, which is higher than the one in 10 global average, and on average 29 Jordanian men die weekly from tobacco-related illnesses. Among adolescents, 45 percent use tobacco. While cigarettes remain the predominant form of tobacco consumed by adults, one in five adolescents aged 13-15 years reports having smoked water pipe.

Recognizing the urgency of this issue, the roadmap for Jordan highlights national priorities. First and foremost, the roadmap underlines the need to advance tobacco control as a national priority, not only from a health perspective, but from social and economic perspectives as well. The roadmap also underlines the importance of complete enforcement of protection from second-hand smoke by 2017, raising prices of tobacco products by 2017, and wide-scale availability of tobacco dependence treatment services by 2018. In line with FCTC and MPOWER, the roadmap also addresses monitoring of the epidemic, mass media campaigns and pictorial warning labels, comprehensive bans on sponsorship, as well as supply control measures.

“No Health Ministry will be able to cope with the avalanche of smoking-related illnesses that are expected to double by 2020. We need to act fast and work together as a community to stamp out the deadly tobacco products that are stealing our children,” said HRH, Princess Dina Mired.

“The commitment of the MoH reflects the guidance of His Majesty the King and the Government of Jordan.  We are committed to implementing the WHO FCTC according to international best practice and to working with all concerned partners for the benefit of the Jordanian people,” said HE Minister of Health Dr. Ali Hyasat.

“Too many avoidable deaths and illnesses occur in Jordan due to tobacco use. This stakeholder meeting for putting in place a multi-sectoral tobacco control roadmap is a milestone event for Jordan in its fight to curb the tobacco epidemic,” said Dr. Maria Cristina Profili, WHO Representative for Jordan.