‘Quit during the night and quit for life’

Express August 03, 2010

KARACHI: Around 5,000 smokers are hospitalised each day and over 100,000 people in Pakistan die every year due to tobacco-related diseases, speakers discussed at a seminar on Tuesday, organised at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH).

“Smokers who fast during Ramazan already refrain from food, drinks and cigarettes from dawn to dusk. Quit during the night and quit for life,” said National Alliance for Tobacco Control (NATC) chairman and AKUH pulmonary diseases section head Dr Javaid Khan.

Quit Tobacco Day will be held on the first of Ramazan to encourage people to give up tobacco, said Khan, who added that smokers need to understand the effects of tobacco dependence so that they can change their habits.

Nicotine directly influences the chemicals in our body that, in turn, affect emotions and behaviour. “Most smokers reach for a cigarette after iftar. What can be done to avoid this?” he asked.

“Work out the best way to quit smoking before Ramazan so that you can also learn to cope with the withdrawal symptoms,” said Khan, who was of the belief that Ramazan provides smokers with the ideal environment to quit smoking.

“One of the biggest benefits of fasting is the sense of discipline that is instilled in an individual, which can help break bad habits, especially smoking,” said Naveed Ahmed, a religious scholar from the Quran Academy in Karachi.

Smoking not only reduces life expectancy, but also affects the quality of life, said AKUH consultant chest physician Dr Suleman Haque, who explained that despite the fact that smoking causes lung cancer, heart attacks and tuberculosis, most smokers quit only after doing themselves permanent damage.

Fifty out of every 100 teenagers who smoke will eventually die of tobacco-related diseases, speakers added. “Young people seldom think of quitting this habit. Anyone who continues to smoke after the age of forty loses three months of his life for every year that he smokes,” said Haque.

AKUH consultant chest physician Dr Ali Zubairi said that deterrent measures, such as increasing the price of cigarettes, sheesha and gutka, as well as effective media campaigns against the use of tobacco must be initiated to “curb the menace”.

Quit Tobacco Day is being organised by the NATC in collaboration with the Pakistan Chest Society, AKUH, World Health Organisation, Pakistan Medical Association, Pakistan Islamic Medical Association and the Quran Academy.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2010.


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