The Middle East Tobacco Report: A Path to Saving Lives

Embracing Tobacco Harm Reduction and Improved Treatments to Combat Smoking-Related Deaths

The Middle East Tobacco Report for June 2024, authored by Derek Yach, Cheryl Olson, Delon Human, and Karl Fagerstrom, presents the life-saving opportunities from tobacco harm reduction (THR) in seven Middle Eastern countries: Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. Through a multifaceted approach that includes embracing THR products, increasing cessation services, and improving lung cancer treatment, 2 million lives can be saved by 2060. Innovative tobacco control strategies are urgently needed as the WHO has projected that smoking prevalence in the Middle East will decrease slightly from 33.3% in 2020 to 31% in 2025—less than any other WHO region.

The executive summary of this report focuses on the fact that the world has grown lax in its attempt to reduce smoking, as the present benchmarks of tobacco control seem to be ineffective.

The modelled scenario estimates that, by adding THR products such as e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products, snus, nicotine pouches, charcoal-free shisha, and increasing healthcare interventions, over 1.8 million lives in the seven countries would be saved by 2060.

Key actions proposed include:

  • Empowering physicians to advocate for THR
  • Revising government regulations to enhance THR product accessibility
  • Creating science-based consumer advocacy groups
  • Leveraging the influence of religious leaders to promote smoking cessation.

The report explains in detail how the current WHO-led efforts in tobacco control are insufficient to improve matters and why THR would be more helpful. It also discusses encouraging recent trends in the quality of evidence on THR. It underlines that THR is relatively effective compared to standard nicotine-replacement therapies.

Read the Executive Summary

Read the English Report

Read the Arabic Report

further reading