Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, August 2012
ARAB NEWS STAFF
Thursday 16 August 2012
“Considering the severe harm caused by smoking and tobacco use, not least of which includes heart disease and cancer, smokers should make use of Ramadan as a good opportunity to give up smoking,” Dr. Mustafa Youssef said during a phone-in interview with the Ministry of Health (MoH) Media Information and Health Awareness Center on Tuesday.
The campaign is being carried out by the MoH center until the end of Ramadan under the program entitled "Your Health in Ramadan".
Youssef has been receiving questions from cardiac patients which mainly revolve around whether it is possible for them to fast in Ramadan. Youssef also explained the various health conditions and the interaction of some drugs with medicine for cardiac diseases, as well as the optimal way to take medication in Ramadan.
Youssef pointed out that not every type of chest pain is necessarily associated with heart disease but suggested people should consult a doctor if they feel any chest pain.
For the eighth year in a row, the ministry has been carrying out the phone-in program at its call center in Riyadh to help people understand their health problems during Ramadan.
The program theme was to encourage a healthy Ramadan. The service, in Arabic, is open to the public from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on week days.
For the program, the MoH has arranged for a number of specialist doctors in various fields to answer questions live. The physicians can also interact with the public through social networking sites such as Twitter.
The Ministry of Interior had recently ordered provincial governors to enforce a smoking ban in government buildings and other public places with the aim of cutting smoking among young people and encourage Saudis and expatriates to look after their health better. The ban also includes shisha served in restaurants and cafes, as well as all ministries, government departments and public establishments.
A spokesman from the Tobacco Control Unit at the MoH said the holy month of Ramadan creates a conducive environment for smokers to quit smoking since Muslims abstain from taking food and drinks from dawn to dusk. He explained that it would not be difficult for a smoker to continue his abstention from tobacco between iftar and suhoor period.
Emphasizing on the spiritual dimension of the holy month, the official said: "We hope that the hand that touches the Qur'an abstains from touching tobacco."
The official said those interested in giving up smoking can take advantage of the facilities and expertise available at more than 60 anti-smoking clinics spread throughout the Kingdom. Clinics will remain open daily from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m during the month of Ramadan. There are six such clinics in Riyadh and one of them is exclusively for women.
There are some seven million smokers in the Kingdom which include nearly 1.1 million women, according to a local study.
Total consumption of tobacco exceeds 40,000 tons a year with a value of nearly SR 12 billion ($3.2 billion), claims a study by the Khair anti-smoking association, a private company based in Makkah.
The study showed school students account for nearly 27 percent of total smokers in Saudi Arabia, which has the 29th highest smoking rate in the world.
Considering the immensity of the problem,
the WHO recently renewed its call for more action, warning that tobacco
use could kill a billion people or more over the course of the 21st
century "unless urgent action is taken. Lung cancer kills one person
every quarter of an hour in the world."
The "Your Health in Ramadan" advisory service is available toll free
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