Karachi, Pakistan; August 3, 2010: “Smokers who fast during Ramadan already refrain from food, drinks and cigarettes from dawn to dusk – quit during the night and quit for life,” said Dr Javaid A. Khan, Chair, National Alliance for Tobacco Control (NATC) and Head, Section of Pulmonary Diseases, Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH). He was speaking at a seminar at AKUH encouraging people to give up tobacco use on the upcoming Quit Tobacco Day being held all over the country on the first of Ramadan.
Understanding what tobacco dependence is all about can help a smoker change their habits. This is especially true for smoking, as the nicotine in tobacco has a direct influence on the body chemicals that affect emotions and behaviour. “Before Ramadan, work out the best way to quit and how to cope with the withdrawal symptoms,” said Dr Javaid, “as this is the month when you have the environment to quit smoking. Most smokers reach for a cigarette after breaking their fast. Some do so within a few minutes of eating or drinking. What will you do to avoid this?”
Smoking did not exist at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) but the general principles of Islam, according to Muslim scholars all over the world, strictly prohibit it,” said Engineer Naveed Ahmed, a religious scholar from the Quran Academy, Karachi, elaborating on the Islamic principles on nicotine addiction. He emphasised that one of the important benefits of fasting is the sense of discipline that it instils in an individual which can help in breaking bad habits especially smoking.
Smoking not reduces only your life expectancy but also impacts on the quality of life. Dr Suleman Haque, Consultant Chest Physician, AKUHHH explained that smoking is a root cause for lung cancer, heart attacks and tuberculosis. Nonetheless, the majority of smokers quit smoking after permanent damage has already been done. “Young people seldom think of quitting this habit. Anyone who continues to smoke after the age of forty loses three months of his life for every year that he smokes,” said Dr Haque.
According to research, 5,000 smokers are hospitalised each day and over 100,000 people in Pakistan die every year due to tobacco-related diseases. Of 100 teenage smokers in the country today, 50 will eventually die of tobacco-related diseases. Speaking at the seminar, Dr Ali Zubairi, Chest Consultant, AKUH said that a lot still needs to be done to curb this menace. Deterrent measures like increasing the price of cigarettes, sheesha and gutka and effective media campaigns against the use of tobacco must also be initiated.
Quit tobacco day is being organized on first of Ramadan by National Alliance for Tobacco Control in collaboration with Pakistan Chest Society, AKU, World Health Organization, Pakistan Medical Association, Pakistan Islamic Medical Association and Quran Academy Karachi