The Dubai Health Authority(DHA) held a Twitter clinic ahead of World No Tobacco Day 2014 to advocate the importance of smoking cessation.
Through its Twitter portal @DHA_Dubai, smoking cessation specialists disseminated vital information with an aim to educate the community about the ill-effects of smoking and provide information about the DHA’s various smoking cessation programs.
Dr Manal Taryam, CEO of Primary Healthcare Centre, said: ” DHA is keen on curbing the menace of tobacco consumption in its community and therefore in addition to regular awareness campaigns, we have dedicated smoking cessation clinics. This is in line with the Tobacco Free Dubai Project which was implemented in 2009 and the Dubai Health Strategy 2013-2025. Since the project was implemented in 2009, more than 30,000 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. Taryam provided an overview of the 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.”
Dr Sami Mana, Community Medicine Specialist at the DHA, said: ” On an average per clinic receives 150 to 200 patients per year. In 2013, we achieved a smoking cessation rate of 14% and we are continuing our efforts in this direction.”
He 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.”
He said patients need most support when they experience these symptoms which can include nervousness, irritability, headaches, insomnia, tiredness, etc.
Dr Shamsa Abdulla bin Hammad, Head of Wellness Centres, Department of Community Health within the DHA primary healthcare sector provided an overview of the smoking cessation clinics at the DHA and said, ” We opened the first cessation clinic in Al Twar primary healthcare centre in 2010 and in 2013 we opened a dedicated cessation clinic in Al Barsha Centre and in the Higher Colleges of Technology campus in order to help adolescents quit smoking at a young age. We will add more cessation clinics in future as such initiatives are an important aspect of preventive healthcare.”
Dr Hammad 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 will also provide medical and psychological support to smokers.”
She said all 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.”
Dr Mana said 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 added that one hour of shisha smoking involves inhaling 100-200 times the volume of smoke inhaled with a single cigarette. 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.”