ABU DHABI // Emiratis are signing up to a new scheme to help them quit smoking during Ramadan.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s programme, launched to help people stop smoking after the World No Tobacco Day on May 31, will soon accept expatriates.
In the UAE, an average of 27 people die each week because of tobacco-related diseases, according to the fifth World Tobacco Atlas, which also revealed that about 24 per cent of Emirati men and 0.8 per cent of Emirati women smoke regularly.
The scheme, which offers clinics twice a week, has about 30 Emirati attendees, said Dr Iyaad Hasan, a certified tobacco treatment specialist.
“We have seen a higher number of smokers wanting to quit during Ramadan. It is a great month to quit because by fasting you learn how to taper out your smoking habits.”
Dr Hasan also said the clinic was in talks with insurance companies to cover the treatment of expatriates.
“There are many benefits to quitting. Apart from helping you live longer, it also improves your quality of life,” he said.
“After you stop smoking, your sense of taste and smell also benefits, and you save money.
“Beyond the immediate benefits that can be felt within hours of stopping, there are numerous long-term health benefits.
“Just one year after quitting, your risk of a heart attack drops sharply. After two to five years, your risk of a stroke drops to the same level as that of a non-smoker.
The clinic’s programme is based on a proven method developed in the United States, which has a success rate of about 20 per cent.
Although cigarettes are a high-profile threat to public health, medwakh and shisha, which remain popular in the UAE, also pose a significant risk.
“This is a challenge because of the psychosocial factors surrounding shisha and medwakh, such as family and work dynamics, but we are up to the challenge,” said Dr Hasan.
“It’s never too late to quit smoking. We develop a tailored programme for every person, designing a plan that best fits their personal situation.”
The scheme helps people well after they stop smoking by offering dietary and lifestyle advice to prevent a return to using tobacco.