A national investigation was launched recently covering 4000 students in Morocco. Three-quarters of this population is aged 13 to 15. This study shows a significant reduction of the smoking rate, falling 55.5% between 2001 and 2016. The strongest drop in smoking rates occurred between 2010 and 2016. Indeed, this was the period during which the smoking rate dropped the most to reach 6%. Over half of the studied population tried to quit smoking in the last 12 months.
Student appreciation of electronic cigarettes was also studied. On average, 5.3% of the surveyed 13-15 age group stated they had vaped in the 30 days preceding the study. Boys are more likely to vape compared to girls (6.3% against 4.3%).
The study also noted a reduction in the consumption of marijuana. Another encouraging fact, passive smoking in the family environment was also significantly reduced. This dropped from 25.1% in 2010, to 15.2% in 2016. However, smoking in public spaces increased. This rose to 41.8% in 2016, compared to 37.6% in 2010.
Ineffective anti-smoking measures
This high increase in smoking in public places has been said to be linked to improper application of the law 15-91. This legal text, dated 1996, forbids any person from smoking in public spaces, and any form of advertising for tobacco products.
Unfortunately, this law was never published in the official Bulletin and the fines given in case of infraction are too low to be dissuasive. Certain associations militating against smoking are accusing tobacco company lobbies of pressuring the Moroccan government to maintain sanctions at a financially and otherwise manageable level for those in infraction.
The study of this population of students highlighted the fact that it is very easy for young Moroccans to obtain cigarettes, in packs or single cigarettes, despite the law stating this is illegal. The lack of preventive measures in school environments explains in part this high rate of smoking in young populations. Only 50% of middle-school students have been targeted by school-organiser awareness campaigns of the health effects of smoking.