Perfect day to give up smoking
Perfect excuse to give up smoking - it’s World No Tobacco day
Sarah Mohamed, 26, started smoking socially at age 17. The managing director for Secret PR used to smoke two cigarette packs a day, along with medwakh and dokha (pipe and tobacco). She has now switched a lighter brand and a pack can last two to three days. Sarah understands the dangers of smoking and wants to quit for good, but like most, she finds it hard.
“The most effective method I tried was reading Allen Carr’s book Easyway to Stop Smoking because it made me understand the reason behind my addiction. I had no withdrawal symptoms afterwards,” she says.
“Unfortunately, I slowly picked up the habit a few months afterwards because there were too many smokers in my circle and when you go to places like clubs, bars or shisha cafes, smoking helps you cope with the environment.”
When asked if she can stop for even 24 hours for today’s World No Tobacco Day, Sarah answers: “Probably not. I run a PR agency, we do a lot of thinking and planning over smoke breaks.”
According to Dr Trilok Chand, respiratory medicine specialist at Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi, smoking is on the rise in the UAE, with most people getting into the habit at the age of just 15.
Current statistics show 25-30 per cent of the Emirati population smokes; most of which are males aged 20-40. Some 75 per cent of those smoke cigarettes, while the rest are into medwakh and shisha. Contrary to popular belief, these other forms of smoking are not safer than cigarettes. Dr Chand says: “Shisha is more dangerous than cigarettes because of the large amount of tobacco and longer lasting sessions. The amount of tobacco in medwakh also depends on the bowl size of the pipe.” Sarah says she wants to kick the habit for good, but she’s doing it at her own pace: “I hired a personal trainer to push me to go to the gym everyday and monitor my performance, as well as my body’s changes. These ‘improvements’ make me not want to destroy my body so I eat better, sleep better and smoking becomes a tedious task.” Dr Chand explains why smokers relapse: “The biggest hurdle to overcome smoking is successfully dealing with cravings. These are caused by the withdrawal effects of nicotine, and can start just a few minutes after your last cigarette. Giving in to these cravings is the main reason people relapse. Nicotine replacement therapy (often in the form of patches or gum) is one option for dealing with cravings.” Mahboob Hussain, a hypnotherapist and founder of OFI Centre for Human Development & Behavioural Therapy Dubai, adds: “A smoker is motivated to continue because of the ‘good’ emotion associated with smoking. “Although a part of their mind wants to quit, another part wants to hold onto that habit. “This is because it believes there is a ‘positive benefit’ in smoking.” He says the process of hypnotherapy may help by “changing the core beliefs in the subconscious mind.”