Ramadan Is 'Ideal Time' To Quit Smoking
The holy month of Ramadan is the best time for Muslims to quit smoking, says a
senior Health Ministry official.
Ali Alwadey, director general of the ministry's Tobacco Control Program, said
there are 54 anti-smoking clinics, which include 10 mobile ones, throughout
the Kingdom to assist smokers.
Alwadey said Ramadan creates a conducive environment for smokers to quit
because they abstain from dawn to dusk. It would not be difficult for smokers
to continue to abstain at night from iftar to suhoor.
Emphasizing the spiritual side of the holy month, the official said: ''The
hand that touches the holy Qur'an during the month, should definitely refuse
to touch tobacco.''
He said the clinics are open daily from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. during Ramadan. There
are 10 clinics in Riyadh, with one exclusively for women. ''Our mobile clinics
come to your doorstep to help smokers,'' he said.
He said his unit has organized several programs at regional health
directorates to combat smoking.
These programs highlight the hazards of smoking and Islamic injunctions about
''We are also reaching our target groups through social media channels to
reach as many people as we can in the Kingdom.''
He said his unit is also working with the National Committee for Combating
Drugs to help people kick the habit.
The Kingdom signed the World Anti-Tobacco Agreement in May 2005. Saudi Arabia
ranks fourth in the world in terms of tobacco imports and consumption.
Saudi nationals smoke more than 15 billion cigarettes, worth $168 million,
each year, according to the Gulf Cooperation Council's Health Ministers
There are seven million smokers in the Kingdom, which includes nearly 1.1
million women, according to a local study.
The Kingdom consumes over 40,000 tons of tobacco products worth nearly SR12
billion ($3.2 billion) yearly, according to a study by the Khair Anti-Smoking
Association, a private company based in Makkah.
The health ministry, in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO)
and the Atlanta-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention, would launch
a Kingdom-wide survey on adult smokers shortly, according to Alwadey.
The director general said that the study would be conducted among 8,000
families living in the Kingdom over eight months.
''The survey will help the authorities plan future programs to combat smoking
and will cover all age groups and people from all walks of life,'' he said.
According to Jamal Abdullah Basahi, head of the studies and legislation
department of the ministry's tobacco unit, around 19 percent of Saudis are
smokers. Basahi said around 14 percent of students aged between 13 and 15
years are smokers (9 percent males and 5 percent female students).
The official also said that there has been an increase in the number of youths
who smoke shisha and chew tobacco.
''We have chalked out special programs to help these addicted youth,'' he
The WHO has renewed its call for more action, warning that tobacco use could
kill a billion people or more over the course of the 21st century ''unless
urgent action is taken.'' Lung cancer kills one person every 15 minutes.
''If current trends continue, by 2030, tobacco will kill more than 8 million
people worldwide each year, with 80 percent of these premature deaths
occurring among people living in low- and middle-income countries,'' the WHO
It pointed out that tobacco remains the biggest cause of preventable deaths
worldwide, killing nearly 6 million people and costing hundreds of billions of
dollars in economic damage each year.