Posted on June 02, 2018

Calling Ramadan an opportune time to quit smoking, last month Dr. Ahmad Al Mulla, Head of HMC’s Tobacco Control Center, announced that a number of special clinics would be offered during the Holy Month to encourage tobacco users to give up the habit.

“Ramadan is a great opportunity to quit smoking. I want to personally encourage all those who smoke to take advantage of the Holy Month and use it as an opportunity to rid their body of this harmful habit. Tobacco use not only causes harm to the smoker’s health but also to the health of those around them. Ramadan is a wonderful opportunity for those who smoke to focus on living a healthier lifestyle and also to protect the well-being of those around them who are exposed to second-hand smoke,” said Dr. Al Mulla. Each Ramadan, HMC’s Tobacco Control Center receives hundreds of requests from new patients seeking support to quit smoking. Quitting smoking has numerous health benefits, including improved blood sugar levels and blood circulation, increased insulin reception (especially in diabetics), and decreased cholesterol levels.

Dr. Al Mulla said Ramadan is a time of year when many individuals consider quitting smoking because they are more reflective about their health and the negative consequences of unhealthy behaviors. He said each Ramadan, the Tobacco Control Center receives an influx of new patients; last Ramadan 70 percent of visitors to the Tobacco Control Center were new patients and during the last month upwards of 230 patients have been received at the Center, with over half being new patients. “Our smoking cessation team provides patients with tools to replace their nicotine consumption habit and with strategies to help cope with withdrawal symptoms. Ramadan can be a great opportunity to introduce healthy habits and let go of unhealthy behaviors. The practice of fasting serves several spiritual and social purposes, reducing many of the distractions in our daily lives and also placing emphasis on family gatherings and religious commitments like the Taraweeh prayers,” said Dr. Al Mulla.

Nicotine, the addictive substance in tobacco products, is highly addictive, hence quitting can be very challenging. In addition to the adverse health consequences associated with tobacco use, smoking interferes with your sense of taste and smell. “Cigarette smoke contains more than 45 poisonous chemicals that can cause cancer. Lung cancer is directly associated with smoking due to the presence of carbon monoxide and tar inhaled during smoking can lead to heart disease, stroke, and respiratory disease,” said Dr. Al Mulla.

Dr. Al Mulla says the first few days after quitting can be the most challenging. He states that Ramadan can be a great time of year to quit because of the increased number of social and family gatherings that can provide the much-needed support required when making difficult lifestyle changes. He recommends spending time in public places where smoking is not allowed, drinking water and eating well (during non-fasting hours), getting sufficient sleep, and he stresses the importance of spending time with friends and family members who are non-smokers. He says making a list of reasons why you want to quit smoking can provide extra motivation.

HMC’s Tobacco Control Center runs clinics every Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday from 8am to 1pm and the Smoking Cessation Clinic at Hamad General Hospital runs a clinic every Wednesday from 8am to 10am. HMC’s smoking cessation services offer one-on-one medical and behavioral counseling and patients are provided with targeted treatment options. For an appointment or more information, call the Tobacco Control Center on 4025 4981, 4025 4857, or 5080 0959.

The Ministry of Public Health, HMC, and Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) have partnered again this year to re-launch the Ramadan Health website and have expanded the initiative by introducing a companion smartphone and tablet app. Introduced two years ago, the Ramadan Health website is Qatar's first online resource devoted to health and wellness during the Holy Month. Visit the Ramadan Health website at www.hamad.qa/ramadanhealth, or download the app to your phone or tablet by searching for ‘Qatar Health’ (available for iOS and Android operating systems).

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