20 Jul 2011
In terms of tobacco control, the SCTS is:
• working towards understanding adolescent tobacco use patterns and determinants;
• examining water pipe toxicant exposure, dependence and risk;
• testing and integrating effective smoking cessation interventions; and
• building regional tobacco control (TC) research capacity.
Five questions with Dr Fouad
1. What motivated you to run for the FCA Board?
Because I’ve been working in tobacco control since the mid-90s, I’ve gained a thorough understanding of how big a threat tobacco use has become to the health of people in Syria and the rest of the Middle East.
Being on the FCA’s board will help shed more light on the tobacco control problems and efforts in Syria, plus help implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) throughout the region.
2. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing FCA and tobacco control in general?
Both face many challenges but the biggest is funding.
FCA is one of the strongest alliances against the tobacco industry but it needs continuous funding to succeed.
3. How long have you worked in tobacco control work and why did you get involved?
I began working in tobacco control in 1997, when I became the director of primary health care in northern Syria, which was a government position. I established the tobacco control programme as a main component of the prevention strategy.
In 2002, and in collaboration with international institutions, I was involved in establishing the Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies in response to the increasing needs for controlling tobacco – – particularly in relation to the rapid spread of water pipe smoking.
I had two main reasons for getting involved with tobacco control.
The first one was personal: because I lost my father early in my life due to a heart attack – although he survived non-Hodgkin lymphoma! He was a heavy smoker and couldn’t quit even after his first angina.
The second reason was professional, because as a general surgeon I dealt with many patients suffering from different types of cancer – – tobacco smoking was one of the most difficult issues to discuss with them.
4. What do you think TC advocates living outside EMRO could learn from the TC work being done in your region?
Water -pipe smoking is widely used in this region, and also other parts of the world. This has become a silent danger that needs to be combated in a variety of ways.
I think TC advocates living outside EMRO who are dealing with the effects of water pipe smoking could learn from work being done here to combat the problem.
5. What are your TC priorities until the end of the year?
I plan to encourage more regional organisations to join international TC efforts.
I also want to develop a preliminary regional plan for FCTC implementation in regional countries that have signed and ratified the treaty.