How clinics help smokers kick the habit
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Dubai: The UAE is working to help smokers quit the habit and reduce the high figures of lung cancer, asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD) and other complications that habitual smokers suffer from.

As per the goals of the National Health Agenda, the UAE aims to reduce tobacco consumption among males from 21.6 per cent to 15.7 per cent and in females from 1.9 per cent to 1.66 per cent by 2021.

According to global statistics, tobacco addiction kills nearly six million people annually, including more than 600,000 non-smokers who suffer from the effects of inhaling second-hand smoke. If measures are not taken, tobacco use will claim the lives of more than eight million people every year until 2030, say experts.

In the UAE, people consume tobacco in the form of cigarettes, shisha, medwakh or by chewing tobacco.

Both the Ministry of Health and Prevention and the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) have set up smoke cessation clinics to help smokers kick the habit.

The smoke cessation clinics run by the DHA and Ministry, have as their registered members, several young individuals who may have experienced symptoms of asthma and COPD and are desirous of stopping this habit. Dr Salah Thabit, family physician at DHA’s smoke cessation clinics, confirmed: “The majority of patients we see are in the age group of 20 to 40 years.”

Most of the youngsters sought help only when they suffered the negative health consequences. Dr Nada Al Mulla, family physician and head of Nad Al Hammar Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) told Gulf News: “A majority of patients that visited the DHA’s cessation clinics tried to stub the habit only after tobacco use took a toll on their health. Sadly, people only think of quitting after they have suffered the dire health consequences of tobacco use.”

Dr Mulla said smoke cessation clinics followed a systematic approach in helping the smoker quit and cautioned that random attempts at quitting smoking usually fail. “Our message to smokers is to try quitting with the help of health professionals in a planned manner. Without support, and having failed a few times, they lose confidence in smoking cessation.”

Dr Al Mulla added: “People who quit smoking have a lower risk of lung cancer but their risk is still higher as compared to people who are non-smokers. Yet, it is important to note that quitting tobacco at any age can lower the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.”

As per DHA statistics, approximately 300 smokers visited the Al Twar and Al Barsha smoking cessation clinics in 2018.

How cessation process works

Those looking to quit smoking have to register at the clinic with their Emirates ID. The clinics smoking cessation package includes blood investigations, ECG, Smokerlyser test, to measure the levels of toxic carbon monoxide (CO) inhaled from tobacco smoke. The clinics also provide medical and psychological support to smokers and offer four consultations as part of the package.

Dr Thabit said smokers are assisted with physical, psychological, medical and community support. “Tobacco dependence is a behavioural, cognitive and physiological phenomenon so we provide medical, psychological and social support. We help smokers cope with nicotine withdrawal symptoms, one of the main factors that prevents smokers from stubbing the habit.”

The withdrawal phase, he said, was a critical period that requires a clinical support. “During this period, the patient experiences nervousness, irritability, headaches, insomnia, tiredness.”

Help at hand

■ Smoking Cessation Clinic Al Barsha
Every Monday afternoon: Cessation programmes and counselling offered
For more information, call 04- 5023302

Al Twar Centre
Every Wednesday afternoon/Thursday morning: cessation programmes and counselling
For more information, call 04-5022101/2

Benefits of quitting
People who quit smoking after having a heart attack reduce chances of having another heart attack by 50 per cent.
Decreases excess risk of diseases related to second-hand smoke in children.
Lowers chances of impotence, reduces difficulty in getting pregnant (for female smokers), having premature births and babies with low birth weights and miscarriage.