Are you struggling to quit smoking? Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: More and more people in the UAE are seeking medical assistance to help them stub out the habit of smoking, and this is largely due to the rising costs of cigarettes, coupled with pressures from loved ones and health concerns, according to a local hospital.

Medical experts at Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi said on Wednesday that there has been a rise in the number of patients who have come to seek their assistance, to help them stop the vice.

In 2017 alone, nearly 200 people registered with the clinic’s Smoking Cessation programme, which helps support people who have decided to stop smoking for good.

The programme offers a customised approach for each patient, to improve the chances of stubbing out the cigarette habit permanently. It is patterned after the program from Cleveland Clinic in the United States and is run by the hospital’s Respiratory & Critical Care Institute.

“More people are coming to us looking for help in quitting, as awareness is rising about the long-term health risks of smoking and its impact on the wider community,” said Iyaad Hasan, a certified tobacco treatment specialist who leads the program.

Hasan pointed out that smoking is not only one of the leading preventable causes of cancer, it increases one’s chance of having a fatal heart attack and risk of developing complications from diabetes.

The patients who have come to the clinic for help had told the staff that pressures from other family members, health concerns and increasing costs are driving them to seek expert guidance.

“The introduction of a new excise tax in October, which effectively doubled the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes, has contributed to the number of people seeking to quit through the Smoking Cessation program,” Cleveland Clinic said in a statement on  Wednesday.

The latest Abu Dhabi Health survey published by the Department of Health in December 2017, showed that cancer was the third-biggest cause of mortality in the emirate in 2016, accounting for 15 per cent of deaths after cardiovascular disease (37 per cent) and injuries (20 per cent).

While cigarettes are the highest profile threat to public health, medwakh and shisha, which continue to be popular in the UAE, also pose a significant risk, the clinic said.