Abu Dhabi is expected to take major steps to bring down the rate of smoking in the capital, including a revision of the emirate's anti-smoking regulations which are expected to be in place later this year. The capital could however face an uphill battle since the rate of smoking in Abu Dhabi stands at 35.5 per cent, which is much higher than that of other developed countries.
Abu Dhabi: M. Srinivas Rao, 46 from India has been smoking over a packet a day for the past 30 years. He's married with a 13-year-old daughter.
His picked up the habit at the age of 15 due to peer pressure when he moved to a university hostel after finishing school.
"It started as a joke but gradually became serious. I tried to quit many times. Once I quit for 10 to 15 days, but would find myself tempted to return to the habit. I finally quit when I ended up hospitalized in the intensive care unit for four days," said Rao.
Last year Rao and a friend were shopping at the mall together when he suddenly felt very dizzy and couldn't stand up straight. "My friend felt my uneasiness and asked me to rest.
After resting and as we approached the car I again felt dizzy and sat on the nearest pavement due to not feeling my legs anymore."
Rao was immediately transferred to hospital where he was told by doctors that his blood pressure was well above average. He had bed-rest for a whole week to avoid a heart attack.
"From that day onwards I have not put a single cigarette in my mouth, but I crave for it badly at times and when I do, I remember my child and wife and how sick smoking made me that day," he said.
His advice for smokers is to simply to quit the habit all of a sudden. "Using anti-nicotine patches and drugs won't help, it's all about willpower. Simply decide to quit without using the excuse of cutting down. Not to mention that you should try to resist smoking areas as much as possible."
Farid Hindash, a Jordanian, 36, is married with four children and has been smoking two packets of cigarettes for the past 18 years.
"I started smoking right after my father passed away, I was only 18. There was a lot of load on my shoulders, I was the eldest brother and had the responsibility of educating the rest of my siblings and taking care of the family. I was young and naïve and my friends convinced me that smoking would take the pain away," he said.
Hindash has a black belt in karate and does two hours of body building and one hour of cardio six days a week. He believes that's the only reason smoking hasn't affected his health.
"I only have one serious health problem and that's related to my sinus. I had a surgery to stop snoring, however, my doctor told me that without quitting smoking the problem will not go away," he explained.
Hindash dreads entering a public smoking room. "The world looks down on smokers and everywhere has become smoke-free now and the worst feeling in the world is to enter a room full of 15 to 20 people puffing smoke in a small designated area."
Even though he continues to smoke heavily, Hindash complains that smoking has taken a financial toll on him. Both Hindash and Rao spent well over Dh300 a month on only cigarettes. "Smoking has its own budget. I am willing to quit the habit, but the problem is I enjoy smoking and do not have the support I need," explained the athlete.
Serial Killer: Smoking is the cause of 10% of adult deaths
According to reports published by the WHO, tobacco is the second leading cause of death in the world and is currently responsible for the deaths of one in ten adults worldwide, with five million deaths annually.
If current smoking patterns continue, says the report, ten million deaths are predicted each year by 2025. Approximately 70 per cent of those deaths in developing countries and 50 per cent of current smokers (which include 650 million people) will eventually die from tobacco.
Tobacco also takes an enormous toll in health care costs, lost productivity and the intangible costs of the pain and suffering inflicted upon smokers, passive smokers and their families.
Smoking causes at least 80 per cent of all deaths from lung cancer, around 80 per cent of all deaths from bronchitis and emphysema and around 17 per cent of all deaths from heart disease.