Workshop on prevention and reduction of tobacco use among youth at Doha-Qatar

By Rawan Shihab

The Cancer Control Office at King Hussein Cancer Center and the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) in Doha- Qatar organized a workshop targeted for social workers and counselors working in Qatari schools aiming for the prevention and treatment of tobacco use among adolescents and young adults.

A team of specialists from each of the Department of Public Health at the MOPH and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and from the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) were amongst the 50 participants to serve as the core for the national training team, that will be assigned to establish workshops on a regular basis to cover all schools in Qatar.

According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey for Qatar (2013), 22.8% of boys and 8.8% of girls use tobacco. 47.9% of students are exposed to secondhand smoke in enclosed public places whereas, 24.2% are exposed at home. On the other hand, 6 in 10 of current smokers want to quit smoking. All these numbers show the importance and need for protecting youth from the rising tobacco epidemic.

Sessions addressed the effects of tobacco use amongst adolescents and young adults, in addition to marketing strategies led by the tobacco industry with the aim of making smoking attractive to youth. The sessions also focused on the family’s role and the school’s in being the primary environmental context responsible for the development of youth, and how it is important to have effective health education programs to reduce the prevalence of health risk behaviors such as smoking, and have a positive influence on their academic performance. The workshop also emphasized on the role of school counselors in preventing and treating tobacco use, based on scientific methods that were proven to be successful worldwide.

A growing interest was shown by the participants in having more effective anti-tobacco programs at their schools, as well as incorporating tobacco control in their daily routines. This workshop is within the framework of the national strategy of the Ministry of Public Health for tobacco control, and having a basis of social support for all students.

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