Smoking habits and the influence of war on cigarette and shisha smoking in Syria

PLoS One. 2021 Sep 2;16(9):e0256829. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0256829. eCollection 2021.


Tobacco smoking might be impacted by various influences, including psychological, socio-cultural, and economic factors. A community-based cross-sectional survey was conducted in Syrian Arab Republic from March to April 2019 using a web-based questionnaire. The survey aimed at assessing tobacco use (shisha and cigarettes) as well as examining the association between current tobacco use and various sociodemographic and war-related factors. The sample comprised 978 participants (251 males: 727 females) and had a mean age of 24.7 years (SD: 7.60). Most participants were single (n = 825, 84.4%), reside in Damascus and Rif-Dimashq (n = 579, 59.2%), and had a college/university education (n = 911, 93.1%). Concerning smoking, a total of 371 participants (37.9%) were identified to be current tobacco smokers, of whom 211, 84, 76 were exclusive shisha smokers, exclusive cigarette smokers, and dual smokers, respectively. The prevalence of cigarette smoking (exclusive and dual) among males and females was found to be 34.7%, and 10.0%, respectively. On the other hand, the prevalence of shisha smoking (exclusive and dual) among males and females was around 34.3% and 27.6%, respectively. Additionally, various factors have predicted a higher likelihood of cigarette smoking including male gender (AOR = 4.152; 95% CI: 2.842-6.064; p<0.001), and losing someone due to the war (AOR = 1.487; 95% CI: 1.028-2.151; p = 0.035), while unemployed individuals were found to have lower odds of being cigarette smokers (AOR = 0.634; 95% CI: 0.429-0.937; p = 0.022). Concerning shisha smoking, married (AOR = 0.622; 95% CI: 0.402-0.963; p = 0.033), and unemployed individuals (AOR = 0.679; 95% CI: 0.503-0.916; p = 0.011) were found to have lower odds of shisha smoking. Amid the tobacco epidemic in the region, rates of tobacco use in Syria are still worrying. The Syrian armed conflicts may possess a double-edged effect on smoking, and tobacco users who adopt smoking to cope with various stressors should be targeted with well-structured health education, along with appropriate psychological services.

PMID:34473786 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0256829

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