CAIRO: The Doctors’ Syndicate outlined its plan to combat smoking in Egypt over the next three months, in a joint campaign with the World Health Organization (WHO).
The syndicate aims at eradicating smoking in the governorates of Alexandria, Ismailia, Qena and Giza, according to a press statement.
Last Saturday, syndicate members met with WHO representative Moustafa Lotfi and Mohamed Mehrez, head of the Ministry of Health’s anti-smoking department, as well as representatives from the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs.
Lotfi called for raising awareness on the issue through free public service announcements on television.
On his part, Hamdy Al-Sayed, chairman of the Doctors’ Syndicate, accused some of the media conglomerates of making profit from tobacco companies by incorporating smoking scenes in TV shows.
Al-Sayed also called for raising the price of cigarettes, saying that Egypt is notorious for selling tobacco products at very low prices.
However, he indicated that the syndicate made strides in combating smoking by removing all vending machines selling cigarettes from several public places.
Mehrez said that over 37,000 people lose their lives to smoking every year in Egypt, adding that treating diseases caused by smoking costs Egypt LE 3 billion annually.
Atef Yacoub, consultant in the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs, pointed out that a 2007 law banned smoking in medical and educational institutions as well as sporting clubs.
However, Al-Sayed said that some medical institutions do not implement that law. He said he has personally asked Minister of Health Hatem Al-Gabaly to avoid hiring smokers in high positions in the ministry and in public hospitals.
The campaign aims at making the holy month of Ramadan, set to start late August, tobacco free.