Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking (WTS) Knowledge Hub (KH)

Newsletter for 2020

COVID-19 Online Awareness Brochure

The WTS-KH generated online brochures and  disseminated them on its social media platforms. The brochures presented scientific information answering important questions related to waterpipe tobacco smoking and COVD19 during the quarantine.

Please view  the online brochures in Arabic and in English on the link below

COVID-19 online report with WHO EMRO

The WTS-KH generated a report in collaboration with the World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) under the title: “Questions and answers on tobacco use, including waterpipe use and COVID-19 in the Eastern Mediterranean Region”. Please view the report on the link below


COVID-19 impact on smokers and waterpipe users

The WTS-KH team generated a brief summary on  smokers’ risks of contracting COVID-19 as compared to non-smokers. Please view  the report  on the link below


World Tobacco Day 2020 (WNTD2020) and Dr. Zaatari’ WNTD award for the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMRO) Award recognition

AUB Holds the WHO World No Tobacco Day 2020 Award Ceremony: On Tuesday, July 7, 2020, the American University of Beirut (AUB) held  a ceremony on the occasion of  the World Health Organization (WHO) World No Tobacco Day 2020 Award under
the slogan ‘Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use’. The prestigious WNTD award for the Eastern
Mediterranean Region (EMRO), was granted to Dr. Ghazi Zaatari, Interim Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at AUB. The ceremony was attended by WHO Country Office Director in Lebanon, Dr. Iman Shankiti, AUB president, Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri, the Coordinator of the AUB-Tobacco Control Research Group,
Dr. Rima Nakkash, WHO Country Office members, dignitaries, AUB leadership, family, and friends. Safe physical distancing measures were observed  throughout the event. The ceremony was also broadcasted live on WebEx. Several WHO regional and international executives  joined the ceremony and gave  testimonies reflecting on Dr. Zaatari’s mentoring skills, achievements, and role as an instrumental member of the organization.
In his speech, President Khuri said, “Dr. Zaatari is a distinguished and determined scholar and an advocate for a tobacco-free tomorrow like few others. Grateful for his outstanding contributions, both past and current, related to tobacco control, tobacco product regulation, and the health effects of traditional and novel tobacco products. All this despite the difficult circumstances that the university, the country, and the world have been going through in 2020”. AUB is doing everything possible to support committed scholars, physicians, so that their contributions continue, and their visions for a better world and a brighter future become a reality, and so that they can continue to mentor the next generation of stellar students.

Dr. Shankiti welcomed the audience and announced that Dr. Zaatari is the recipient of the award this year in recognition of  his active efforts against tobacco use and smoking. She indicated that the WNTD Award recognizes individuals or institutions in each of the six WHO Regions based on their outstanding contribution to the advancement of the policies and measures contained in the WHO
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and its guidelines, particularly in relation to the theme of World No Tobacco Day. In her address, Dr. Shankiti noted that the WHO will always support the efforts of the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health, the American University of Beirut, and all institutions and partners in the fight against smoking, to expand the implementation of all the provisions of the WHO agreement in Lebanon. Dr. Shankiti congratulated Dr. Zaatari, AUB, and Lebanon on an award well deserved at the end of her address.

Please check all the pictures of the ceremony on this link:  


World No Tobacco Day (WND) Virtual competition for the “Youth Anti-Smoking” awareness campaign

In the wake of the ongoing pandemic, AMALOUNA recognized the importance of  carrying on  with its awareness campaign, albeit virtually, and to reach out to the youth in the  community. Accordingly, this virtual competition was carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and Health and the AUB Wellness Center. It was also supported by the National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS)-Lebanon. Students from public and private high schools were invited to design either a poster, video, or pictorial message about smoking (cigarettes, nargileh, e-cigarettes…). The artworks that should promote an anti-smoking environment or show the adverse effects of smoking were scored by a committee and we are sharing the 1st and 2nd winners for each category.

AMALOUNA website:

AMALOUNA Facebook Page:

Check the winner videos on our Facebook page:

WNTD 2020 Campaign

On the World No Tobacco Day 2020, the Chair of  WHO’s  Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation (TobReg) and WTS-KH  Director, Dr. Ghazi Zaatari, sent  out a   reminder message to the community about the harmful health effects of smoking and tobacco use, including that of  waterpipe smoking.  This is in keeping with the mission of WTS-KH.  To view the message, please visit the following  link:


The WTSKH WNTD2020 Social Media Campaign with famous young figures

The WTS-KH for WNTD20202 in collaboration with social media influencers (Instagram) published good content videos on the dangers of smoking in general and waterpipe smoking in particular on their social media to increase  awareness.

Message by actress @saraabikanaanofficial

Message by musician @samerzouein


WTS-KH working on Law Enforcement & Advocacy with Members of the Parliament

The WTS-KH team has been  in contact with the Chair of the Lebanese Parliament Health Committee, Dr. Assem Araji, to move forward with possible action plans to strengthen Law 174 on tobacco control in Lebanon; however,  the COVID- 19 pandemic slowed the progress and shifted the priorities for the parliamentarians.

It is still the plan of the WTS–KH to hold  a workshop &/or round table discussion for key stakeholders in the country regarding the reinforcement of Lebanon’s Law 174 and its application to waterpipe smoking.  It is also active in drawing the strategy of the future work of the newly founded Coalition for Tobacco Control Advocacy in the country.

A workshop on tobacco taxation

A workshop on tobacco taxation modelling was held, on August 12th 2020, between the UCT WHO FCTC Taxation knowledge hub team and the  “Eastern Mediterranean Consortium on the Economics of Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking (ECON-WTS)  on  how to utilize the Van Walbeek model to design country specific fiscal models. The ECON-WTS is an IDRC funded project that is led by Dr. Rima Nakkash, Associate Professor at AUB Faculty of Health Sciences, Co-director of the WHO Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking Knowledge Hub.  The consortium is collaboration between the American University of Beirut (AUB) and its regional partners in Jordan, Egypt and Palestine, of which the objective is to strengthen multidisciplinary and multi-institutional leadership in generating economic evidence to support waterpipe tobacco control in the region. One of the specific aims of this project is to model the impact of fiscal policies for waterpipe tobacco control on WTS rates, health care costs (WTS-attributable impact), and public revenues. This collaboration between the UCT team and the research team will help in designing curated models that will help in influencing future fiscal policies in the region.


In its efforts to highlight the knowledge on waterpipe smoking and discuss contemporary issues related to waterpipe use, the WTSKH organized this year a series of webinars:

Webinar #1 on April 23, 2020

Topic: Smoking and Smoking Cessation during the COVID19 Pandemic: Facts and Recommendations’ by  Maya Romani, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Family Medicine Director of the AUB Health and Wellness Center Associate Director of Family Medicine Residency Program Specialist in tobacco treatment and corporate wellness at the American University of Beirut (AUB)

For the full webinar recording, please visit the following link

Webinar #2 on May 7, 2020

Topic: Epidemiology of people in Lebanon compared to Jordan: Smoking Habits, Coffee, Occupational Exposure, and the Effect of Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking on bladder cancer and other cancers’ by  Elio George Jara , MD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow Hematology – Oncology Division Department of Internal Medicine, American University of Beirut.

For the full webinar recording, please visit the following link


WTS-KH working on School Awareness Sessions

The WTS-KH started discussions with local active NGOs on educational awareness presentations to youth in schools in Lebanon about the harms of WTS. The WTS-KH is in the process of preparing a well-equipped user friendly and well-targeted educational material to be used for this purpose.

WTS-KH website database is updated

The WTS-KH library database has a searchable electronic index of published, reliable resources. It has access to a wealth of useful up-to-date research material from academic journals and, newspapers; the WTS online database can be found on the library page and searchable by subject of interest, Pub Year, Descriptors and Author.

-Please check the link below for more details:

Participation in International Congresses

Dr. Zaatari has participated in the following meetings that deal with contemporary issues related to emerging tobacco products, their regulations and what lessons can be  learned from regulating conventional tobacco products. Because of the pandemic, all these meetings were virtual:

  1. The 10th Meeting of the Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation (TobReg) on September 28- October 2, 2020; the meeting focused on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and heated tobacco products and the challenge they pose in regulating them.
  2. The 4th Meeting of the Global Tobacco Regulators Forum on Nov 5-6, 2020.
  3. The 2nd Eastern Mediterranean Regional Tobacco Control Leadership Program 2020 on November 8-19, 2020. Dr. Zaatari will be moderating a session on “Challenges in Implementing Smoke-Free Environments in the Eastern Mediterranean Region”, and making a presentation on “New Tobacco and Smoking-Related Products: What We Know About Their Prevalence, Use and Regulation”.

Website & Social Media

To learn more about the mission WTS-KH and its activities, visit the following sites: