The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) launched its anti-smoking social media campaign called #quit_4_happiness, during the DHA’s Twitter clinic known as #smart_clinic ahead of World No Tobacco Day 2015.
Smoking cessation specialists disseminated vital information about the benefits of quitting tobacco to more than 70,000 DHA followers on its twitter page.
The aim of the campaign is to educate the community about the ill-effects of smoking and provide information about the DHA’s various smoking cessation programs.
Dr Sami Mana, head of preventive services centre at the DHA, said: “The Dubai Health Authority’s smoking cessation clinics, have recorded a year-on-year increase in the quitting rate and this is due to the rise in community awareness. Education and provision of cessation services, are important parameters in our fight against tobacco use.”
“The quitting rate has increased from 11 per cent in 2012 to 14 per cent in 2013 and 16.9 per cent in 2014. Globally the quitting rate is in the range of 10 to 20 per cent.”
Mana said, “It is a known fact that people who quit tobacco witness immediate and long-term health benefits and reduce their chances of developing chronic diseases. Within 20 minutes of quitting, a person’s heart rate and blood pressure drop and within 2 to 12 weeks, lung function improves. In 10 years, the risk of developing lung cancer falls to about half of that of a smoker. So,there are innumerable health benefits to quitting tobacco.”
Mana said:“Although tobacco dependence is a behavioural, cognitive and physiological phenomenon; quitting is very much possible and easier when the smoker takes the help of a healthcare professionals and regularly visits a cessation counselling program.”
Dr. Hanan Obaid, head of acute and chronic diseases unit at the DHA, said: “In line with the Tobacco Free Dubai Project which was implemented in 2009, more than 40,000 people have benefited from the smoking cessation campaigns which the DHA has conducted across universities, schools, private and public sectors.”
She added that the campaigns are on ongoing initiative.
Obaid provided an overview of the cessation clinics and said: “DHA primary healthcare centres conduct three dedicated smoking cessation clinics per week and all 14 primary healthcare centres refer smokers to these clinics as well as provide them with health information on the dangers of tobacco consumption.”
On an average per clinic receives approximately 300 patients per year.
Obaid said the clinic provides a holistic approach to help smokers stub the habit. “ 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 reaches out to smokers to help them cope with nicotine withdrawal symptoms which is a factor that often dissuades them from stubbing the habit.”
She said patients need most support when they experience these symptoms which can include nervousness, irritability, headaches, insomnia, tiredness, etc.
Mana highlighted the smoking cessation packages and said, “We have developed a smoking cessation package so that smokers who visit the cessation clinic receive all aspects of medical care to help them stub the habit. The package includes blood investigations, ECG, Smokerlyzer test to measure the levels of toxic carbon monoxide (CO) inhaled from tobacco smoke. The clinic also provide medical and psychological support to smokers.”
Mana said that DHA hospitals and health clinics often refer patients to this clinic. “ In many cases, doctors refer cases to us because the patient needs to urgently stop smoking to avoid further health complications. Such cases include smokers who have recently had a heart attack etc.”
Mana added that cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer and that 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. “ People who quit smoking have a lower risk of lung cancer but their risk is higher than the risk of people who never smoked. However, it is important to note that quitting tobacco at any age can lower the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.”
He highlighted the dangers of passive smoking and said: “Smokers should be considerate about their friends and family members especially children and pregnant women. 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.”
He also said it’s 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.”