More Dubai residents quit smoking in 2014 than previous years

Since 2009, more than 60,000 Dubai residents have benefited from smoking cessation campaigns. (File)

Last year was a successful year when it comes to smoke cessation, as a quitting rate of 17 per cent was recorded across the smoking cessation centers of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

Smoking cessation was the topic of the weekly Twitter clinic of the DHA, where doctor’s pointed out the significance of the cessation rate.

DHA clinics recorded a quitting rate of 11 per cent in 2012 and 14 per cent in 2013.  Globally the quitting rate is in the range of 10 to 20 per cent, the experts mentioned.

The DHA runs two dedicated cessation clinics, where people are supported in quitting the habit through a holistic approach. “The clinic caters to people who want to quit smoking by addressing their individual problems and by giving them medical and psychological support.

The clinic helps quitters cope with nicotine withdrawal symptoms, a factor that often dissuades them from stubbing the habit,” explained Hanan Obaid, head of the Acute and Chronic Disease Unit.

“We are pleased with the results of 2014. Last year, we greatly focused on the follow-up of patients; we ensured that after every session, we followed up and asked them how they were coping with the treatment,” she said.

The use of nicotine patches, behavioral change techniques and coping strategies were among other techniques emphasised that helped improve the quitting rate in Dubai.

Obaid explained that quitters need most support when they experience withdrawal symptoms, which can include nervousness, irritability, headaches, insomnia, tiredness etc.

Every week there are three smoking cessation sessions available, and all 14 primary healthcare centres refer smokers to these clinics, especially those cases where the patient needs to urgently stop smoking, such as smokers who recently had a heart attack, lung problems etc.

The measures are in line with the Tobacco Free Dubai Project, which was implemented in 2009, and the Dubai Health Strategy 2013-2025, said Obaid.

Since the project was implemented in 2009, more than 60,000 people have benefited from smoking cessation campaigns conducted across universities, schools, private and public sectors.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the world, with 1 person dying every 6 seconds. Six million deaths per year can be attributed to smoking, and smoking kills half of its consumers.

“Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer,” said Nesreen Kaoud, specialist family physician at the DHA.

“Tobacco smoke is a mix of more than 4,000 chemicals, of which 250 are toxic and at least 50 are known to cause cancer.”

Kaoud highlighted the dangers of passive smoking and said: “Passive smoking is very harmful especially for small children who are still in the developmental stages of their life. According to WHO, almost half the children in the world regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke in public places.”

She added that one hour of shisha smoking involves inhaling 100-200 times the volume of smoke inhaled with a single cigarette, pointing out it is a myth that pipes are less harmful than cigarettes.

“Pipes are more alkaline, more addictive and cause substantially higher risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the relative risk of lip and oral cancer is also higher as compared to cigarette smoking.”

The DHA offers smoking cessation packages that cover all aspects of medical care. The package includes blood investigations, ECG, lung function tests and a smokerlyzer test to measure the levels of toxic carbon monoxide (CO) inhaled from tobacco smoke.

For more information on cessation support readers can call 04-5023300 or 04- 5023302.

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