As World No Tobacco Day was marked in Gaza, the Hamas lawmaker responsible for health policy said progress would be made in banning smoking in public places in the coastal enclave.
The Palestinian legislative council passed a law forbidding smoking in public space in 2005, but it has yet to be fully implemented.
Khamis An-Najjar, deputy of the Hamas parliamentary bloc with the health portfolio, said that the ruling was recently put in place in government institutes and ministries, as a first step to implementation in other venues including restaurants, banks, parks, and even cars.
The Gaza-based government had already announced full implementation of the law in December 2009.
An-Najjar joined a children's demonstration against smoking during the celebrations, which marked their call to end a culture of cigarette-consumption.
The youth held anti-smoking posters, chanted “people want to end smoking,” an echo of the calls in Egypt and across the Middle East, "the people want the end of the regime," and burnt a large model of a pack of cigarettes.
smoking in Palestine is down 18 percent, a new study suggests.
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said Thursday 23 percent of Palestinians aged 18 and older are smokers - the highest in Jenin at 32 percent and the lowest in Gaza at 11 percent.
The percentage of smokers was 28 percent in 2000 and has declined by 18 percent during the last 10 years. A greater decline in the percentage of smokers was reported in Gaza than in the West Bank.
Among the other findings, according to the PCBS:
- Palestinians spend more on smoking than education: A 2009 survey indicates that the monthly average individual expenditure on tobacco and cigarettes was 5.4 dinars, 4.5 on education, and 6.9 on medical care.
- More than one quarter of male youth report that they smoke: Data shows that 16 percent of youth between 15-29 years old smoke, 20 percent in the West Bank and 8 percent in Gaza. Less than 1 percent of female youth report that they smoke.
- Smokers among elderly males are 11 times higher than elderly females: About 15 percent of the elderly smoke with 30.3 percent for males and 2.7 percent for females. The elderly are half as likely to smoke in Gaza.