Over 70% of the smokers want to quit smoking but they cannot do so because of their addiction to nicotine whereas 90 to 95 per cent quit on their own without any formal assistance. Cessation of smoking depends upon the will power of a person and this may be done preferably in the month of Ramazan in which Muslims develop strong spiritual and physical will power to correct themselves and remove their weaknesses.
Head of Community Medicine at CMH Lahore Medical College Professor Dr Muhammad Ashraf Chaudhry expressed this while talking to ‘The News’ on tobacco cessation.
He said that tobacco-related diseases kill over 100,000 people in Pakistan every year – more than suicide bombing, road traffic accidents, honour killings and drug abuse combined. The tobacco related diseases and premature deaths by it can be avoided by taking serious measures by the government and individuals, he added.
Tobacco use poses a serious threat to public health in Pakistan, a country that has over 25 million smokers. Health experts believe that 87% of the fatal lung cancer cases are caused by smoking and persons who smoke are at a chance of suffering from lung cancer 22 times more than non-smokers.
Cigarette smoke contains 4,000 chemicals at least 40 of which are known to be carcinogenic (cancer causing agents) and the toxic ingredients in cigarette travel throughout body causing damage in several different ways. Studies reveal that besides nicotine, the addictive substance of tobacco, the gas and vapour phase of cigarettes contains thousands of other toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, growth reparative and immunosuppressive compounds which include poly-cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, cyanide, carbon monoxide, lead and cadmium.
“Ramazan is the best time to quit smoking and one should make the firm intention from the depth of heart to give up this evil habit during Ramazan,” said Dr Ashraf. He added that when all ulema agree that smoking is haram (totally forbidden), then why a Muslim uses haram thing during the holy month of Ramazan.
Allah says “—- make not your hands contribute to destruction—-”. (Sura Al-Baqra 2;195), “—- not kill yourselves—-”(Surah Al-Nisah 4:29), he said. Dr Ashraf advises that after quitting smoking, one should avoid relapse. Most relapses occur within the first three months. Avoid situations in which you were habitual of smoking. Drink plenty of water/juices and avoid boring situations. Stay busy, active and do regular walk or exercise. Get more sleep. Take deep breaths when cravings hit.
Do something to reduce your stress. Take a hot bath, read a book or exercise. Learn what triggers your desire for cigarettes for example morning routine, coffee, tea, the end of a meal, arrival at work, sitting in a car, entering restaurant, company of smoker friends, emotions such as stress, anxiety, boredom and celebration and avoid these triggers, he said.
Dr Ashraf said that all forms of tobacco – cigarettes, pipes, cigars, Hubble Bubble (huqqa or sheesha), smokeless tobacco (beedis, niswar or snuff, tobacco pan), and filtered, light, mild or low tar cigarettes – are hazardous.
Explaining benefits of quitting smoking, he said that just 20 minutes after quitting smoking, your heart rate drops. Twelve hours after quitting smoking, carbon monoxide (poisonous gas) levels in your blood drops to normal. Two weeks to three months after quitting smoking, your heart attack risk begins to drop and your lung function begins to improve. One to nine months after quitting, your coughing and shortness of breath decrease. One year after quitting, your added risk of coronary heart disease is half of a smoker’s. Five to 15 years after quitting, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker. Ten years after quitting smoking, your lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker’s. Your risk of cancers of mouth, throat, oesophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases. Fifteen years after quitting smoking, your risk of coronary heart disease is back to that of a non-smoker’s, said Dr Ashraf.
He added that pregnant women, who quit smoking, are at less risk of premature or low birth weight babies and foetal malformations.