HPC: Tobacco Use in Jordan Impedes Sustainable Development Goals

Amman, May 29 (Petra) – The Higher Population Council (HPC) has highlighted that current tobacco use trends in Jordan are hindering the country’s progress towards sustainable development goals, particularly in reducing poverty and inequality, lowering premature deaths, boosting the economy, and protecting the environment.

According to the HPC, the poorest Jordanian smokers spend 25 times more on cigarettes than on healthcare, 10 times more than on education, and 1.5 times more than on food. These figures were released in a statement by the HPC on Wednesday, coinciding with World No-Tobacco Day on May 31.

The annual economic loss to Jordan from tobacco use amounts to JD1.6 billion. The National Tobacco and Smoking Control Strategy for 2024-2030 underscores that current tobacco use trends contradict the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 3.4, which aims to reduce premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases by one-third by 2030.

The strategy notes that low socioeconomic status is strongly linked to high cigarette smoking rates in Jordan. Studies indicate that the lowest-income two-fifths of the population are more likely to smoke than the highest-income fifth. Raising tobacco taxes is identified as an effective measure to reduce tobacco use, especially among the poor and youth. The average monthly expenditure on cigarettes is JD60.3, exceeding 23% of the minimum monthly wage.

In some governorates, such as Balqa, Zarqa, and Mafraq, household spending on tobacco surpasses that on meat and poultry. This highlights the significant reliance on tobacco products in these areas.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2022, Jordan had 2.77 million tobacco users, including 2.29 million males and 483,000 females. Jordan leads the Eastern Mediterranean Region in smoking prevalence among individuals aged 15 and over, with a rate of 36% in 2022, expected to rise to 38.3% by 2030.

The 2019 national stepwise survey (STEPs) showed that 41% of Jordanians aged 18-69 were smokers. Smokers of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices represented 9.2%. The prevalence of smoking was higher among men (65.3%) compared to women (16.4%). The average duration of smoking among those aged 18-69 was about 17 years, reaching 35 years among those aged 45-69. Men typically started smoking at 17, while women started at 24. Additionally, 34.7% of smokers began before age 16.

The “Economics of Smoking” policy paper from the Jordan Economic Forum 2024 revealed that Jordan’s imports of electronic cigarettes in 2022 were about JD1.4 million. Although the tobacco industry contributes significantly to the national economy, generating approximately JD889 million annually, the total economic burden of smoking is JD1.6 billion, equivalent to 6% of the GDP in 2015.

A report titled “Global Tobacco Index 2021: Where Does Jordan Stand in its Battle with the Cancerous Pandemic,” by the Jordan Strategy Forum, stated that annual economic losses from premature deaths due to tobacco consumption were about JD399 million, with healthcare expenses caused by smoking at JD204.4 million.

Smoking is a major risk factor for lung cancer, the most common cause of cancer death in Jordan, particularly among men, where lung cancer accounted for 27.8% of cancer deaths in males.

//Petra// AO
29/05/2024 13:31:10