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Tribune News Network
Ramadan is an opportune time to quit smoking, Dr Ahmad al Mulla, head of the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Tobacco Control Center, has said.
He said, during the Holy Month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during daylight hours, which is currently around 14 hours a day in Qatar. According to Dr Mulla, fasting has a lot of positive effects on one’s health and those benefits are especially prominent in tobacco users who give up smoking.
he said, “For smokers, quitting is often easier during Ramadan as believers are already required to abstain from food and drink, as well as from smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products, for 14 hours.
“The positive health effects of quitting smoking begin 20 minutes after your last cigarette. Your blood pressure and pulse will start to return to more normal levels. Within eight hours, the body also begins to cleanse itself of the excess carbon monoxide from the cigarettes and carbon monoxide levels in your body return to normal, increasing the body’s oxygen levels.”
Dr Mulla said within the first day of quitting, heart and brain function improves, with the risk of heart disease and stroke decreasing and a person’s blood pressure beginning to drop.
Dr Mulla said each year, in advance of Ramadan, the Tobacco Control Center – which was officially designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the first WHO Collaborating Centre in Qatar and the GCC – increases smoking cessation resources available to the public.
“Each Ramadan, HMC’s Tobacco Control Center receives hundreds of requests from new patients. In March and April, we received three times the number of requests from new patients seeking support to quit smoking, which was in part due to the relationship between more severe COVID-19 illness and tobacco use. Through our telephone-based consultations and treatment, we are continuing to support those who wish to quit this harmful habit,” he said.
Dr Jamal Abdullah, smoking cessation specialist at HMC’s Tobacco Control Center, said while Ramadan can make it easier for some people to quit smoking, heavy tobacco users who can go from smoking every two hours to not smoking for 14 hours, can experience withdrawal symptoms and should seek professional support.
He said, “Within eight hours of the last cigarette, carbon monoxide levels in the blood decrease by over 50 percent, which has positive health benefits but can also trigger withdrawal symptoms such as strong cravings, poor concentration, nerviness and headaches. Reading the Holy Quran and reciting Astaghfirullah can help promote spiritual healing.”
According to Dr Musallam Mesaed Musallam, smoking cessation specialist at HMC’s Tobacco Control Center, patients who seek support at the Tobacco Control Center receive one-on-one counselling and appropriate nicotine replacement or pharmaceutical support, depending on their level of addiction.
Dr Arwa al Awlaki, a community medicine specialist at the Tobacco Control Center, said it is important for smokers to understand that chronic nicotine use results in a permanent increase in the number of receptors in the brain, which causes nicotine withdrawal symptoms and underscores the importance of seeking professional support, particularly for heavy smokers.
HMC Clinical Psychologist Dr Ashour Ibrahim said fasting motivates people to do good things and that the Holy Month of Ramadan is a great time to quit smoking, but he also stresses the importance of getting appropriate support. He said both psychological sessions and behavioural therapy can be useful in treating nicotine addiction.
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