‘Lead by example’ call for FNC to quit smoking
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.
Politicians are being urged to lead the way in the battle against smoking by pledging to quit cigarettes