The use of tobacco kills over 4,800 persons annually in Lebanon, according to a study by the American University of Beirut's Knowledge to Policy Centre (K2P).
The annual economic costs of tobacco use are estimated at $327.1m, which is equivalent to 1.1% of GDP, according to a report in Lebanon This Week published by the Economic Research & Analysis Department of Byblos Bank.
In addition, it is said that 4,385 tons of cigarette butts and packs end up as toxic waste in Lebanon each year.
The study notes that individuals who smoke on a daily basis in Lebanon spend 4.6% of their income on average to purchase cigarettes.\
Lebanon has the third highest cigarette consumption level worldwide with 3,023 cigarettes per capita annually. 48.6% of males and 21.5% of females in Lebanon are currently cigarette smokers, while 32.7% of men and 46.2% of women are waterpipe smokers.
Further, the study notes that there is mounting evidence globally that the use of tobacco could increase the risk of infection and mortality from the COVID-19 virus. For instance, research studies conducted worldwide show that the use of tobacco raises by 1.4 to 1.45 times the risk of complications and of severe infection from COVID-19, while the risk of requiring mechanical ventilation, needing intensive care and dying increases by 2.4 times when an individual smokes.
The study considers that the Lebanese government's enforcement of Law 174, which was issued in 2011 to combat smoking and regulate the production, packaging and advertising of tobacco products in Lebanon, has been weak, especially with regards to banning smoking in public spaces. It says that the lack of political will by consecutive governments, slow levels of coordination between relevant authorities, limited resources, and the interference of the tobacco industry and its allies have constituted challenges to the implementation of this law.