Ramadan Is 'Ideal Time' To Quit Smoking

EsinIslam Ramadan Explorer

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 it.

''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 Council.

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 said.

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 stated.

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.

Source: Arabnews


EsinIslam Ramadan Team

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