Posted on July 31, 2016

Hundreds of visitors who are willing to quit tobacco smoking visited the Smoking Cessation Clinic at the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) during this year’s Ramadan, said Dr. Ahmad Al Mulla, Senior Consultant Public Health and Head of the Clinic.

“We have received around 200 new patients seeking to quit their habits of tobacco use at our clinic during Ramadan. Usually, the number of people who are motivated to quit smoking increases in Ramadan because fasting requires abstinence from smoking in addition to refraining from food and drink during the day. So the figure we have recorded for this year is almost similar to previous years in Ramadan,” stated Dr. Al MullaFasting in the holy month of Ramadan presents a great opportunity to smokers to quit their habits. So in Ramadan the number of smokers who want to quit is higher than other periods of the year.

Dr. Al Mulla explained that nicotine, which is the addictive substance in tobacco products, is as addictive as any other hard drug such as cocaine and heroin. He stressed further that carbon monoxide - another component of tobacco products is a poisonous gas emitted from tobacco smoking. “This gas replaces oxygen in the blood and as such causes shortness of breath and in severe cases can cause dizziness. These components pose a major threat on the health of a smoker and people around them who are exposed to second-hand smoke (SHS),” he said. 

According to the American Cancer Society, SHS is also called environmental tobacco smoke. It’s a mixture of two forms of smoke that come from burning tobacco: mainstream smoke (the smoke exhaled by a smoker); and side stream smoke (smoke from the lighted end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, or tobacco burning in a hookah). Acknowledging that it is difficult for many people to quit smoking, Dr. Al Mulla encouraged seeking professional help, through HMC’s Smoking Cessation Clinic or primary healthcare centers, where patients can obtain advice, treatment and support from specialists to enable them to quit smoking permanently.

The Smoking Cessation Clinic at HMC provides patients with ways to replace their nicotine consumption and cope with withdrawal symptoms, and supports patients throughout the process of quitting. “Quitting smoking has various health benefits for a healthy individual and also for those with chronic conditions such as diabetes. For the diabetic, quitting smoking can result in improved blood sugar levels and blood circulation, increased insulin reception, decreased cholesterol levels, and decreased complications,” said Dr. Al Mulla.

Exercising, drinking plenty of water and staying away from smokers are some steps that people can take to decrease the urge to smoke, according to Dr. Al Mulla. Avoiding places such as shisha cafes and other areas frequented by smokers will also help prevent inhaling SHS, which is responsible for heart and respiratory diseases every year. Tar inhaled during smoking constitutes the main agent of causing several types of cancers. “Cigarette smoke contains more than 45 poisonous chemicals that can cause cancer,” said Dr. Al Mulla.

According to him, the Smoking Cessation Clinic has held a number of interventional programs and introduced initiatives aimed at encouraging smokers to quit. “In addition to one-on-one counseling that we usually hold for persons willing to stop smoking, we also prescribe suitable medications that will help them cope and remain committed to quitting. We have also organized public awareness campaigns and lectures to highlight the dangers of smoking and advised on methods to quit,” he said adding: “We are planning more awareness campaigns in order to reach a much wider community as well as extend our clinical services to more HMC hospitals within the coming year.”