The power of continuous efforts: Smoke-free zone program’s success in Jordan

By Seri Maani/IFMSA-Jo National Public Health Officer (NPO)

Preventing an epidemic increase in smoking prevalence is a major challenge for developing countries.

In Jordan, The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA-Jordan) and under the umbrella of its standing committee on public health (SCOPH) has been working on smoking awareness for years, in an annual national campaign targeting the public all over Jordan from north to south.

Since 2014, IFMSA-Jordan has joined The King Hussein Cancer Foundation and Center (KHCF/KHCC) in their fight against smoking through the “Smoke-Free Zone Certificate program”. This program comes in collaboration with the Global Smoke-Free Worksite Challenge and this experience can be used as a reference for any other country working on such a great program after the remarkable success it left in Jordan.

This year, more than 100 IFMSA-Jordan members from the different local committees put all their time and efforts to join the fight against smoking. They have taken it upon themselves to reach several areas and distant villages within the governorates in order to conduct the program’s spot-check visits, being in charge of more than 200 institutions all over the country.

The institutions were granted the certificate at a ceremony under the patronage of HRH Princess Ghida Talal, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the King Hussein Cancer, this certificate comes to approve and appreciate their hard work in implementing a smoke-free environment for their workers, students or staff.

The number of institutions applying for the program is increasing each years, which shows the growing concern and interest in public health by the community. We have also witnessed during our visits that the interest and enthusiasm among the Jordanian community in providing smoke-free environments were getting higher and they are being more oriented on many aspects, which helps a lot in raising awareness and advocating for the program and fighting smoking.

Moreover, some institutions were so excited to spread awareness regarding the harms of using tobacco and secondhand smoke exposure through educational lectures and materials, some schools started their own campaigns on smoke-free environment by doing some brochures or drawings, others showed their full support to help in taking this program to a higher level. Not only this! But also some of them used really creative methods to raise awareness, like doing songs, sketches or games!

Moving forward, the interest and commitment of certified organizations can be leveraged to strengthen a culture of smoke-free environment in Jordan. In addition, this program is seeking to encourage companies, institutions and restaurants to provide a healthy and smoke-free environment for their employees and customers, and to identify the best practices in this area. Therefore, it is important to empower institutions that were granted the certificate, in order for them to encourage others to apply, enforce smoking bans and adopt a smoke-free culture as a social responsibility.

As part of our strong belief in the right of individuals to breathe clean air and as part of our commitment to fight smoking and raise awareness, we will keep doing our utmost efforts in order to provide a smoke-free environment in our beloved Jordan.

This blog is also available to read in Arabic.