Abu Dhabi: The Health Authority of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) and the Preventive Medicine Department are playing an active role in health promotion and disease prevention by launching monthly smoking-cessation programs along with nicotine replacement aids to help smokers get rid of the deadly habit.

"Research has shown that those who consume tobacco are not the only ones exposed to the negative effects and that millions of people, including half the worlds children are exposed to second-hand smoke or passive smoking," affirmed Dr. Zainab Al Khazaal, Director of the Preventive Medicine Department, who has played a major role in the Quit Smoking Clinic initiative.

Dr. Ahmad Abdullah from Preventive Medicine explained that in the past eight months the Quit Smoking Clinic registered 385 smokers who are willing to quit the habit. About 60 per cent attended counseling sessions and 76 smokers have successfully quit, which amounts to approximately 32 per cent of attendees.

"The increase in participation and their success is mainly due to public awareness campaigns, conferences and lectures, in addition to prohibiting smoking in several public areas including shopping malls and coffee shops," added Abdullah.

The Quit Smoking Clinic is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 7am to 3pm and voluntarily during the evenings from 5pm to 8pm. To inquire about the programme, call 02-616-9543.

Laws: Status of the ban

- There are no federal laws regulating smoking in the UAE and no such laws for Abu Dhabi either.

- Although smoking has been reduced in some Abu Dhabi venues, it has been completely at the discretion of the establishment and not enforced by any law or government regulation

- Some shopping centres have decided to take steps to curb the habit by unilaterally designating smoking rooms.

- A federal law proposed by the Ministry of Health is expected to be approved later this year

- The law will govern tobacco usage, taxes on cigarettes