Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Tobacco control in the Gulf states

I picked up this story this morning from the Framework Convention Alliance news feed: Saudi Arabia enforces crackdown in shisha cafés in Eastern Province.

I can't help wondering how much good it does the tobacco control cause to associate itself with an authoritarian regime that makes use of the death penalty and flogs people, doesn't allow women to drive, doesn't allow public worship of any religion but Islam, and so on. The Saudis wanted to stop Russia from supporting Syria too, incredibly falling into line with Israel in the Middle East battle lines. Isolating Syria from its alliance with Russia could have led to war, giving rise to some wonderful health outcomes.

My last blog post touched on this: the importance of central control in the tobacco control model. I think it's partly why I am drifting away from the tobacco control debate (which can get a little repetitive after eight years) and taking more interest in how we are governed. It certainly feels odd that in both Saudi Arabia and Scotland concern for people's health takes the form of fighting tobacco, and the same applies south of the border, when we have so little else in common.

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