With one in four adults in Qatar using tobacco or tobacco products, health experts are calling on the community to Commit to Quit this World No Tobacco Day.
World No Tobacco Day is celebrated globally on 31 May each year and this year the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on smokers to commit to quitting for their health and wellbeing.
According to the WHO, smokers are at higher risk of developing severe disease and death from COVID-19. Smoking exacerbates conditions that reduce the body’s ability to use oxygen, putting patients at higher risk of pneumonia.
“Smoking is a major problem facing the health care system in Qatar, and it is not only harmful to smokers themselves, but also to non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke,” said Dr. Kholood Al Mutawa, Head of Non Communicable Diseases at the Ministry of Public Health and focal point for tobacco cessation under the WHO FCTC. “Tobacco use is also a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes. Moreover, people living with these conditions are more vulnerable to severe COVID-19.
“Quitting smoking and the cessation of tobacco use is the most effective way to reduce the risk of tobacco-related diseases and reduce the burden these place not just on the community but also our healthcare system.”
The Ministry of Public Health is also responsible for implementing Tobacco Law no10 2016 and empowering the community to quit smoking through awareness campaigns on the dangers of smoking.
Dr. Ahmad Al Mulla, Head of the HMC’s Tobacco Control Center – a WHO Collaborating Center – said there were important treatment and support services available for people wanting to “commit to quit”.
“The nicotine found in tobacco is highly addictive and creates dependence. There are a number of state-of-the-art treatments available in Qatar for those who want to quit smoking and tobacco,” Dr. Al Mulla said. “But individuals need to address lifestyle choices that have a direct impact on their physical and mental wellbeing and the reasons they smoke as well. The behavioral and emotional ties to tobacco use – like having a cigarette with your coffee, craving tobacco, feelings of sadness or stress – make it hard to kick the habit.
“This is why ongoing behavioral counseling as well as support – which are available at HMC – is as important as treatment.”
Dr. Wadha Al-Baker, Director of Wellness Programs at Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), stated that tobacco use is a major health risk factors linked to preventable death.
“Most fatalities linked to tobacco smoking are actually caused by cardiovascular diseases – such as hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis), lung cancer, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Similarly, exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke increases risk of illness and death. Smoking is also responsible for many other non-fatal or recoverable diseases and health problems, including osteoporosis, skin wrinkles, better known as Rhytids, peptic ulcer disease, impotence, pregnancy complications,” Dr. Al-Baker said.
“Even smoking a small amount of tobacco, such as one cigarette a day, increases the risk of disease, a fact that 60% of smokers do not realize. Quitting smoking promotes healthy and behavioral lifestyle and helps improve the ability to exercise and regain normal sleep patterns.”
For more information on quitting smoking and support services available, call PHCC Hayyak on 107 to book an appointment in one of the 11 Health Centers offering smoking cessation services. To access HMC’s Tobacco Control Center’ services call 50800959 (for further information) or 40254981 (for an appointment).
Source: Ministry of Public Health.