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Tob Control. 2006 Jun;15 Suppl 1:i24-9.

The tobacco epidemic in Syria.

Author information

1
Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies, Aleppo, Syria.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies (SCTS) was established in response to the smoking epidemic in Syria and lack of local knowledge and expertise to confront it.

OBJECTIVES:

To (1) study tobacco use and local smoking practices using both qualitative and quantitative research methods; (2) develop and test an effective smoking cessation intervention for the Syrian environment; and (3) train Syrian researchers.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

The Aleppo Household Survey involved a representative sample of adults in Aleppo (2038 subjects, 45.2% men, mean age 35.3 years, response rate 86%). The prevalence of cigarette smoking was 56.9% among men and 17.0% among women, while the prevalence of waterpipe smoking was 20.2% among men and 4.8% among women. Daily use predominated for cigarettes (29.0%), while the opposite was seen in waterpipe use with 10.6% smoking occasionally. Interest in quitting was greater for cigarette than waterpipe smokers (74.0% v 48.6%), while quit rates were higher for waterpipe compared to cigarettes (28.2% v 16.5%). In-depth ethnographic interviews with smokers show that smoking waterpipe is often viewed as an aesthetic enjoyable experience, while smoking cigarettes is viewed as a mundane anxiety-relieving addiction. Clinical laboratory studies reveal that both waterpipe and cigarette smokers in Syria are exposed to smoke toxicants and exhibit dependence symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS:

All these data have been used iteratively to adapt smoking cessation interventions from developed countries to suit the local Syrian environment. Research conducted in the SCTS to date has provided a fertile training ground for Syrian researchers, as well as for the building of regional collaborations.

PMID:
16723671
PMCID:
PMC2563543
DOI:
10.1136/tc.2005.014860
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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