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Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and reduces the health of smokers in general. Image Credit: Pixabay

Dubai: The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) launched its third smoke cessation clinic at the Nad Al Hammar health centre in Dubai on Monday. Totally these clinics have over 400 customers annually recorded a 14 per cent quitting rate in 2020. Globally the quitting rate is in the range of 10 to 20 per cent.

The first clinic was started by DHA in 2010 when studies pointed that professional support and approved cessation medications can more than double a tobacco user’s chance of successfully quitting the habit. Studies also found that without cessation support only four per cent of attempts to quit tobacco will succeed.

Smokers need psychological support and medications to quit

Dr Ayesha Al Olama, Senior Specialist Registrar and Acting Head of Acute and Chronic Diseases Unit said that tobacco addiction is a chronic disease that often requires multiple attempts to quit. “Although some smokers are able to quit without help, many others need assistance. Both behavioural interventions (counselling) and medication can help smokers quit; but the combination of medication with counselling is more effective than either alone, ” she said.

The three smoke cessations clinic run by DHA are located in Al Twar Health Centre which runs every Wednesday afternoon, Nadd AlHamar Health Centre runs twice a month, every other Thursday and the clinic at the Al Barsha centre opens twice a month or on alternative Monday mornings.

The counselling and medication services target all tobacco-type smokers and are provided by physicians & nurses who are trained on tobacco dependence treatment.

Customers can book appointments through referrals from family clinics or other DHA facilities, walk-in or by calling the DHA Contact Centre 800342.

Behavioural counselling to smokers

Dr Al Olama further added, “The smoking cessation clinic doctor will support the smoker’s decision of quitting smoking by providing behavioural [counselling] and medications. Management plans will also be set through a discussion between the smoker and the treating physician in a patient-centred care manner. Patients will be advised to set a quitting date and will be encouraged to get rid of all items that remind the smoker to smoke. Smokers will also be informed about withdrawal symptoms that may arise once they stop smoking and how to overcome them. Also medicines will be given to support them and help them overcome withdrawal symptoms,” she said.

Nicotine patches used

Dr Al Olama further explained, “Medications that are used in smoking cessation clinics to support quitting are Nicotine patches and Champix tabs. Patient will have support from the smoking cessation clinic team through regular follow ups,” she said.

She added that quitting smoking lowers the risk of smoking-related diseases, which can add years to a smoker’s life as tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the world, it kills half of all lifetime users, and half of those die in middle age.

Furthermore, cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and reduces the health of smokers in general.

Benefits of quitting

“The immediate health benefits of quitting smoking are substantial,” said Al Olama. “The heart rate and blood pressure, which are abnormally high while smoking, begin to return to normal. Within a few hours, the level of carbon monoxide in the blood begins to decline. (Carbon monoxide reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen). Within a few weeks, people who quit smoking will have improved circulation, produce less phlegm, and stop coughing or wheezing as often. Within several months of quitting, people can expect substantial improvements in lung function,” she elaborated.

She also pointed out that the long-term health benefits included reducing the risk of cancer and many other diseases, such as heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused by smoking.

Smoking Cessation Clinic Packages, includes four consultation visits:

• Assessment & counselling by expert family physicians trained in managing tobacco addiction

• Assessment by specialised nurse

• Treatment plan visit

• Follow up visits

* Laboratory investigations include Complete blood count, liver function tests and renal function test

* Coordination/Referral to specialist care, when deemed necessary

* Electrocardiogram (ECG) & Chest X-ray

* Assessing lung function test

* Assessing carbon monoxide level