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  Smoking: The Silent Killer
  Written By:  Mona Al-Raqas ( YEMEN POST STAFF )
  Article Date: February 11, 2008 

Smoking has over the years become a  prestigious habit for men in Yemen. According to a British Scotch study on smokers in the Muslim world,  Yemen recorded the highest number of smokers from all the countries involved in the study. In all,  77% of smokers in Yemen are men, while 23% are women.

Due to the cheap cost of tobacco in Yemen, smokers can obtain one cigarette after another. Smoking has become something that is practiced normally by millions in Yemen, whether in cars, buses, universities or in the streets.

Yemen is facing a crisis when it comes to smoking. Local studies show that Yemeni people smoke about 6 billion cigarettes annually. According to the numbers, they spend about 21.3 YR billion yearly on cigarettes.

Due to its spread, locals have began to feel that it is a normal procedure to smoke in public areas, not looking at the harm it causes to people around them. Ahmad Hussein, a student in the University of Sana'a, faculty of Arts, said: "You can find students inside the university smoking cigarettes not respecting the right of students around them to breath fresh air ." He added that some of his friends interrupt the teacher to have permission to go out for a smoke, and when they go out, they light up a cigarette.

The problem grows in public transportation as male smokers attack the privacy of women and children and smoke openly in public areas and in buses. " if smokers want to smoke they can do so in their houses, not in buses where innocent children and women accompany them in public transportation," says Anisa Saleh Al-Sabahi, a secretary who rides the bus every day to work and back home, as she complains of the rising number of smokers in public transportation. "Because of men smoking inside buses, sometimes I have to get off a bus and find another bus to ride. I pay twice to get home instead of one time," she added.

About 29 percent of smokers in Yemen are youth between the ages 17– 24 years. "I smoke at home because it eases the pains I get from the extensive housework I have to do. My husband has no problem with that," said Shaima Ali, a mother of one child and currently pregnant. However, she mentions that during her pregnancy, her husband is more strict with her smoking and does not buy her cigarettes, nor allow others to give her.

Dr. Sami Al-Jawfi, a surgeon pointed that "Smoking for a long time causes shortage of oxygen in the body calluses and this leads to its weakness, by time this causes difficulties to healing and coalescing the wounds of the body".

A cigarette contains about 4,000 chemical substances, including over 45 substances that cause cancer. After inhaling a cigarette, the smoke that goes out contains the same 4,000 substances to annoy people around and cause them cancer as well.

Nicotine is a main substance in the cigarette that causes addiction, boredom, worrying, and it kills the body calluses by time.  About 15% of carbon monoxide (poisonous gas) centralizes in the smoker’s blood and causes difficulties in breathing as well. It also causes stomach ulcers. Tar is another poisonous substance in the cigarette that causes the yellowish-brown color in the smokers' teeth and mostly in their lungs. About 70% of tar is accumulated in the lungs, causing serious diseases. There are also arsenic, cyanide, benzene, formaldehyde, methanol, acetylene, ammonia, lead, cadmium, carbon dioxide, chloroform, ethanol, car exhaust, and rat poisons and other substances in the cigarette's contents. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of cancer in other organs as well like larynx cancer, esophageal cancer, oral cancer, stomach cancer, pancreas cancer and colorectal cancer.

According to experts from the World Health Organization WHO, 7 million smokers around the world will die annually by 2020. Sources from (WHO) confirm that about 5 million children in the world are being threatened by early death due to smoking effects. These sources also asserted that 90% of lungs and mouth cancer are caused by smoking.

The government seriously discussed banning smoking in public places; as they started a campaign to make the public more aware of the menaces of smoking. The Health Ministry banned smoking in all its institutions. Sources from the Ministry show that about 650 million people in the world are smokers and half of this number will eventually die because of tobacco. Dr. Abdul Kareem Rase'a, the Health Minister, confirmed that the Ministry is collaborating with the World Health Organization to make intellectual activities in order to enlightening the youth and students of the dangers of smoking. 

Anwar Ahmed, a 31 teacher, believes that if women become more familiar with the dangers of smoking, then they will raise their kids aware of these threats and build new generations with no smoking.

Hundreds of thousands of non-smokers die due to inhaling the smoke of the others' cigarettes worldwide. Today, about 5 million people die annually because of smoking in the world, most of them are men. According to researchers, from the total amount of deaths,   about 1.69 million die of heart diseases, while 970 thousands die of pulmonary problems, about 850 thousands die of lung cancer also because of smoking. In USA about $110 billion is spent annually to fight smoking and drugs.