Complex Made Simple

This is the one time you can be a quitter and win

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths and tobacco use causes more than 8 million deaths per year worldwide, says the World Health Organization (WHO)

Just 48% of men who admitted to smoking in a recent heart health survey say that they would consider quitting Smoking harms almost all organs of the body and takes away several years of a patient’s life Saudi has a strategic tobacco control plan to reduce smoking rates from 12.7% to 5% by 2030

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths and tobacco use causes more than 8 million deaths per year worldwide, says the World Health Organization (WHO).

Low-and middle-income countries pay a disproportionately heavy price as they have more than 80% of the world’s 1.3 billion tobacco users.

The Eastern Mediterranean region has a comparatively high number of tobacco consumers and that number is rising fast.

The global tobacco market was valued at $730 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a rate of 3.78% during the forecast period to reach $908 bn by 2026.

Your heart might quit on you, unless you quit

Just 48% of men who admitted to smoking in a recent heart health survey commissioned by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi say that they would consider quitting due to the increased risk of heart attack caused by the habit.

Smoking is more prominent among men than women. Several lifestyle studies in the UAE reveal that about 24% of men in the country are smokers, with the highest prevalence among those between the ages of 20 and 39 years of age.

New data from Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi shows that 1/3rd of all patients treated for a major heart attack at the hospital in the last 3 years were smokers or former smokers, with a majority of them being men. Nearly 90% of lung cancer cases seen at the hospital are also caused by smoking.

Other long-term effects of smoking include an increased risk of stroke and brain damage, respiratory diseases including asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), eye disease, diabetes, and reproductive issues.

“Smoking harms almost all organs of the body and takes away several years of a patient’s life. It is one of the most common causes of preventable death worldwide. In the UAE, people are not only addicted to cigarettes, but they have access to other forms of tobacco such as sheesha and medwakh, which are equally harmful. This is a growing concern especially among the youth,” says Dr. Zaid Zoumot, Section Head of Pulmonology at the Respiratory Institute, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

Dr. Zoumot says that people get addicted to nicotine in tobacco, which contains several cancer-causing chemicals. When a person smokes tobacco, they are exposed to damaging components including tar that affects the lung tissue, carbon monoxide that reduces oxygen supply to the organs, and oxidizing chemicals that damage the heart muscles and blood vessels.

“Nicotine rapidly increases the number of harmful fats, which include LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood and reduces the amount of HDL or good cholesterol, greatly increasing a smoker’s risk of heart disease and stroke. Regularly smoking between one and five cigarettes a day significantly increases the risk of a heart attack,” says Dr. Zoumot.

“A person who quits smoking will immediately see a change in their health. Within 20 minutes after quitting, their blood pressure and heart rate falls and in a year they will have halved their risk of having a heart attack and lung cancer,” concludes Dr. Zoumot.

Quitting will save you

Here’s what www.quit.com says you can expect by quitting smoking: After six hours of quitting, your heart rate slows, and your blood pressure becomes more stable. After one day, your body is almost nicotine-free. But it takes 2 weeks to rewire your brain to not crave nicotine.

Within 24 hours, your risk of heart attack decreases as your blood becomes thinner and less likely to clot. After three to six months, your lungs will start to function better. In two to five years your risk of heart disease will lessen, and in ten to 15 years the risk of lung cancer, heart attack, or stroke will be similar to someone who has never smoked.

Saudi, UAE want you to quit

Saudi, with a population of more than 34 million, has been taking a number of steps to curb the habit. These include increasing sales taxes and fines, conducting anti-smoking campaigns, establishing smoking cessation clinics, and introducing dedicated mobile applications.

“Saudi has an ambitious strategic tobacco control plan to reduce smoking rates from 12.7% to 5% by 2030,” Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, Saudi’s Minister of Health, was quoted as saying in 2019.

In 2017, the Saudi National Committee for Tobacco Control imposed a 100% excise tax on all tobacco products and banned smoking in public areas including malls, parks, and workplaces.

Additionally, the Saudi health ministry expanded its specialized clinics to 900 locations across the country.

Data from 2019 showed an increase in visits to clinics by 213%, a drop in tobacco imports by 54%, and a 307% spike in the number of people quitting smoking. 

UAE authorities have set a target of reducing tobacco consumption from 21.6% to 15.7% among men and from 1.9% to 1.66% among women by the end of the year.

By far the most common form of tobacco consumption in the UAE is cigarette smoking (77.4%), followed by midwakh use (a small pipe used for smoking tobacco) at 15%, waterpipes at 6.8%, and cigars at 0.66%.

UAE excise tax rates

  • 100% Tobacco products
  • 100% Electronic smoking devices
  • 100% Liquids used in such devices and tools

The Oman Medical Journal study found that in the UAE prevalence rates of smoking were highest among Arab expatriates (31.9%), followed by non-Arab expatriates (22.6%) and Emiratis (21.6%).

E-cigarettes are a healthier alternative but are as well harmful as they produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals that help to make the aerosol. Users inhale this aerosol into their lungs. Bystanders are also at risk of inhaling this aerosol when the user exhales into the air.