DHA smoking cessation clinic records increase in quitting rate

June 30, 2014 2:09 pm

The Dubai Health Authority’s Al Twar smoking cessation clinic recorded an increase in its quitting rate after a recent audit was conducted by the Authority.

The clinic recorded an increase in the quitting rate from 11% in 2012 to 14% in 2013. Globally the quitting rate is in the range of 10 to 20%.

Dr Nahed Monsef, acting-director of health affairs department within the primary healthcare sector at the DHA, 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. We are pleased with the results of the audit that showed an increase in the quitting rate. In 2013, we introduced several initiatives such as an updated questionnaire format that helps assess the type of dependency smokers have. For example, physiological, behavioral etc. Then we chalked out an action plan for the patient and continuously monitored the patient. All these measures have helped increase the quitting rate.”

She said, “The measures are 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.”

DHA conducts 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 Hanan Obaid, head of community health services program section at DHA’s primary healthcare sector and leader of the Tobacco Free Dubai project, said, “On an average per clinic receives 150 to 200 patients per year.”

Dr Obaid said, “The clinic provides a holistic approach to help smokers stub the habit and overcome nicotine dependency.” “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 added. She further added, “Patients need most support when they experience these symptoms which can include nervousness, irritability, headaches, insomnia, tiredness, etc.”

Dr Obaid 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. This year, we added an afternoon clinic at Al Twar as such initiatives are an important aspect of preventive healthcare.”

She 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. The package includes blood investigations, ECG, lung function tests, 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.”

Dr Shamsa Abdulla bin Hammad, head of wellness centres, department of community health within the DHA primary healthcare sector, said, “All DHA hospitals and health clinics often refer patients to the smoking cessation clinics. “Doctors refer cases to us especially those cases where the patient needs to urgently stop smoking to avoid further health complications. Such cases include smokers who have recently had a heart attack, lung problems etc.”

Dr Hammad added, “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,” Dr Hammad concluded.

Dr Hammad 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.” She also added, “One hour of shisha smoking involves inhaling 100-200 times the volume of smoke inhaled with a single cigarette and 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.”

Information Box:
Did you know?
•Smoking kills one person every six seconds.
•According to WHO, smoking kills half of its users
•Six million deaths per year can be attributed to smoking.
•Tobacco smoke is a toxic mix of more than 4,000 chemicals and at least 50 are known to cause cancer.
•One hour of shisha smoking involves inhaling 100-200 times the volume of smoke inhaled with a single cigarette.
•According to WHO, almost half the children in the world, regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke in public places.