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Quitting tobacco is easier after Ramadan.

Dubai: Smoking cessation specialists called on smokers who abstained from tobacco during the 15-hour fasting period in Ramadan, to quit smoking now as quitting will be easier for them.

They believe the long fasting hours demonstrate the willpower to stay away from tobacco, giving the smoker the motivation and confidence in their ability to quit.

Further, after the fast, the limited hours are taken up by sleep and prayer, potentially increasing the number of hours a smoker has abstained.

The positive impact of the abstinence period for a whole month has a host of benefits from improved circulation to reduced risk of heart disease, said specialists.

According to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), even after just eight hours of quitting the carbon monoxide level in the blood drops and oxygen levels rise to normal. After 24 hours the risk of heart attack decreases.

Speaking to Gulf News, Dr Hanan Obaid, Tobacco-Free Dubai Project Leader and Acting Director of the Health Affairs Department, Primary Healthcare Services Sector at the DHA, said the environment during Ramadan is conducive to test willpower to abstain from tobacco products for considerable lengths of time.

"If a smoker can abstain for 15 hours he realises that has the willpower. The person should be encouraged to quit all together. To achieve this the person should get rid of all tobacco products in his home, car or workplace and remove all related items like matchboxes, lighters and ashtrays," she said.

Dr Hanan explained that over time the health risks due to smoking reduce.

"Within a few weeks of quitting the blood circulation improves and lung function increases up to 30 per cent. In a few months symptoms like coughing, sinus congestion, shortness of breath and fatigue will decrease."

Speaking to Gulf News on smoking cessation, Dr Sami Mana Ahmad, community medicine specialist registrar from the DHA's cessation clinic said: "During Ramadan smokers learn to fight the urge to smoke. They feel motivated and confident, giving them a stronger resolve to quit for good."

Regarding withdrawal symptoms, Dr Ahmad said: "A dry mouth, sore throat, headaches, trouble sleeping, hunger, fatigue, a cough and irritability are common symptoms. To combat this a smoker must seek counselling. Measures to cope include chewing gum or drinking cold water for the mouth dryness and relaxation and meditation techniques for irritability."

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Aug 15, 2013
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