Per­fect day to give up smok­ing

Per­fect ex­cuse to give up smok­ing - it’s World No Tobacco day

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - glaiza@7days.ae

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.”

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