Nine out of 10 doctors in the Middle East feel smoking is more dangerous to a patient's long-term health than factors such as obesity, lack of exercise, alcohol consumption or drug abuse, according to a new report.
Eight out of 10 physicians surveyed want to classify smoking as a medical condition and 89 per cent believe it is part of their role to help their patients quit the habit.
But in the UAE, four out of five doctors said it was the patient's responsibility to quit, with less than half feeling they had a role to play. However, 92 per cent of doctors spontaneously mentioned smoking as the top activity that was harmful to their patients long-term health.
The doctors were polled for a Pfizer-sponsored survey titled 'Smoking: The Opinion of Physicians'.?Conducted by IMS Health, it interviewed nearly 700 physicians in seven countries across the region and was part of a global survey that included 2,836 physicians from 16 countries.
Almost half of all physicians surveyed did not feel properly trained to treat tobacco addiction. Yet studies show that the support of a physician can go a long way in helping smokers give up the habit and stay that way.
"A brief intervention by a doctor is enough to make a positive impact," said Professor Andrew Pipe, Professor of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, Canada. "A simple question and a brief discussion about the dangers of smoking are a good start. If the smoker wants to quit there are many therapies to help, including some that only a doctor can prescribe."
When asked to consider common health risk factors, doctors rank tobacco addiction as the most difficult to treat. It is difficult for most tobacco-users to quit on their own and many require help and support to overcome their dependence.
Dr Yousef N Nawas, a pulmonologist and smoking cessation expert from Amman, Jordan, said: "This survey shows that the medical community recognises the importance of treating smoking as a risk factor for major diseases. The nature of tobacco addiction makes it difficult to quit, but with help and support from a healthcare professional, motivated patients can be successful.''
Tobacco has been proven to harm nearly every organ in the body and is a significant cause of a wide variety of diseases, many of which are fatal, including heart attacks, cancer, respiratory disease and stroke. Though many smokers are aware of these dangers, they often find it difficult to quit.
The nicotine in tobacco is highly addictive, often causing smokers to develop both a physical and psychological addiction. That is why many smokers are unsuccessful in stopping the habit.