‘Lead by ex­am­ple’ call for FNC to quit smok­ing

The National - News - - NEWS - HANEEN DAJANI

The Min­is­ter of Health and Pre­ven­tion has urged politi­cians to lead by ex­am­ple and quit smok­ing, in the bat­tle to cut heart dis­ease and can­cer rates.

Ab­dul­rah­man Al Owais, also Min­is­ter of State for FNC Af­fairs, asked Speaker Dr Amal Al Qubaisi to sug­gest that all mem­bers who smoke vote for a pledge to quit soon.

“I suf­fer a lot when I see smok­ers among my friends and mem­bers, so I hope that the coun­cil starts an ini­tia­tive for all to quit smok­ing,” Mr Al Owais said.

Dr Al Qubaisi said: “This will prob­a­bly be the most dif­fi­cult vote. We have smok­ers among us and we wish that they would de­velop the will to co-op­er­ate with this ini­tia­tive – firstly for their health, and so they can be role mod­els for oth­ers and their chil­dren.”

All 40 mem­bers backed the vote

“It’s a good sign that all voted and hope­fully this will be a good ini­tia­tive,” Dr Al Qubaisi said.

Mr Al Owais made his re­quest af­ter an­swer­ing a ques­tion by FNC mem­ber Saeed Al Remeithi about how ef­fec­tive the na­tional anti-to­bacco com­mit­tee had been.

“Re­cent fig­ures show that 21 per cent of the UAE pop­u­la­tion are smok­ers and 15 per cent of them are un­der 18, so this is what we are con­cerned about,” Mr Al Remeithi said.

“Now the UAE is pay­ing a lot of at­ten­tion to its youth, and the age group be­tween 16 and 17 has a high smok­ing rate so we have to take a joint stance.”

Mr Al Remeithi said he had not seen any­thing that specif­i­cally tar­geted young peo­ple.

Mr Al Owais said the num­ber of spe­cial­ist clin­ics that help peo­ple quit smok­ing had in­creased from six to 14 across the UAE. He said there was a 24 per cent in­crease in the num­ber of peo­ple who vis­ited the clin­ics quit­ting the habit, with­out giv­ing fur­ther fig­ures.

Saeed Al Mutawa, who rep­re­sents Shar­jah, said the law should al­low the le­gal sale of e-cig­a­rettes and pipes to help smok­ers to quit. The im­port and sale of such prod­ucts is pro­hib­ited, but they are avail­able on the grey mar­ket and it is not il­le­gal to buy or use them.

“When you try to quit, you start to re­duce the amount of nico­tine, and [e-cig­a­rettes can] lead to a de­crease in smok­ing,” Mr Al Mutawa said. “It is not a cig­a­rette and in the end you are us­ing wa­ter vapour.”

FNC mem­ber Saleh Al Ameri, who is a smoker, said: “There are some things that have ad­van­tages, but smok­ing has none at all.”

Mr Al Ameri said there were up to seven FNC mem­bers who smoked, roughly in line with the per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion, and they could spend thou­sands on the killer habit each year.

“With this amount you could build a mosque or church, and in the end Al­lah will ask us what we spent our money on,” he said.

Stephen Lock / The Na­tional

Politi­cians are be­ing urged to lead the way in the bat­tle against smok­ing by pledg­ing to quit cig­a­rettes

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