Prevalence and perception of smoking habits among the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip
Ahmed S Eldalo
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Pharmacy, Taif University, Taif, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Background: The Gaza Strip is a densely populated place with ~2 million inhabitants in an area of 365 km2. The aim of this study was to determine the smoking prevalence in the Gaza Strip and to identify the perception of the Palestinian population on smoking.
Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian territories, during the period from June to September 2014. Convenient sampling method was adopted. A structured pretested questionnaire was used.
Results: A total of 600 adults aged 15 years or older completed the questionnaires with a response rate of 83.3%. The prevalence rate of smoking was 26.3%, with a significantly higher rate among males (31%) than females (6.9%) (P<0.001). The mean starting age was 17.4±3.9 years. The study revealed that influence of friends is the major reason for initiation of smoking and the most influential factor in convincing smokers to quit was the family. Smokers’ knowledge about smoking risks motivates them to try stop smoking (64.9%) or desire to stop smoking (65.2%).
Conclusion: The study revealed that tobacco use is significantly prevalent in the Gaza Strip. The author recommends rapid antismoking campaigns with stress on the family role and massive intervention programs to encourage young people to change their behavior toward smoking.
Keywords: smoking, prevalence, perception, Gaza Strip