The researchers analyzed data on the prevalence of smoking in the 30 countries with the highest proportion of Muslims. Smoking rates in each of these countries is significantly higher among men than women. The highest recorded rates among men are in Indonesia and Yemen, where over two-thirds smoke. Yemen also has the highest prevalence of smoking among women, almost a third of whom smoke.
Numerous religious scholars and institutions in Middle Eastern and North African countries have recently declared smoking to be haram or prohibited. However, the general view from the Indian subcontinent is that smoking is 'mukrooh' (lawful though discouraged), it said.
The authors contended that South Asian religious authorities needed to follow their Arab-speaking counterparts. The authors believe that it is only a matter of time before South Asian scholars rule that smoking is prohibited and these rulings percolate through the South Asian Muslim communities globally.
These rulings need to be backed up by advertising bans and support to stop smoking if they are to have much effect on smoking rates, they concluded.