WHO urges Arabic-language Ramadan dramas to cut smoking scenes

WHO urges Arab directors to cut smoking from Ramadan dramas
2 min read
12 April, 2021
The global health body called for the advertising of tobacco and smoking products to be banned from Ramadan dramas.
Ramadan television dramas are watched by millions across the Middle East [Getty/ Archive]
The World Health Organization (WHO) has criticised the presence of smoking and cigarettes in popular Arabic-language television dramas watched by millions during the holy month of Ramadan.

In a statement, the global health body called for the advertising of tobacco and smoking products to be banned from appearing in television dramas.

"There is an extravagance in showing scenes of smokers without any justification, and in absence of a warning on the screen from the harms of smoking in the month of Ramadan, during which the rate of viewership for dramas are high," the WHO statement was quoted by Egypt's Al-Ahram daily as saying.

Such scenes featuring smoking may have contributed to a rise in use of tobacco products among young people, the statement added.

The WHO highlighted that the consumption of tobacco is concerningly high in the Eastern Mediterranean region among young people of both sexes.

The health organisation called for notes warning about the dangers of smoking to be flashed on the screen during scenes featuring tobacco products.

Viewing spikes and advertising prices skyrocket in Arab and Muslim-majority countries during Ramadan, which is set to start this year on Tuesday evening.

Families often settle down to watch soap operas after breaking their fast at sunset with an iftar meal, or with suhoor in the pre-dawn hours. 

Up to 90 percent of people across the Middle East watch traditional television, according to US research firm Frost & Sullivan and the Pan Arab Research Center at Northwestern University in Qatar.

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