Sep 22 2007
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UAE: It's easier to stub out the habit now
Quit-smoking clinics are all fired up as smokers discover that Ramadan is the right time to kick the tobacco habit.
Some centres say they witnessed a 20 per cent to 30 per cent increase in customer traffic in the run-up to the start of the month.
Others have received a further boost to their business since the fasting period began.
Suha Wilson, owner of I Quit Smoking, a worldwide franchise with four outlets in the UAE, said: "The number of customers increased weeks before the holy month started because people wanted to get rid of the habit before they start the month-long fast. Many said they could not fast because of their addiction." She said the success rate is also very high during the fasting period partly because of the religious motivation.
Elaborating on the methods used at the clinic, Wilson said I Quit Smoking uses electromagnetic pulse to stimulate various points in the ears.
"This releases natural hormones called beta endorphines or happy hormones that cap the nicotine receptors that are active in the brain. It also calms down the person so that he does not have to go through the usual withdrawal symptoms." At Al Zahra Hospital in Dubai, a new Quit Smoking Clinic is also helping smokers stub out their cigarettes for good. The hospital management said the response has been positive as more people try to quit smoking during the month.
"We opened the facility so that it will coincide with the start of Ramadan. Those who want to quit smoking take Ramadan as the right opportunity to do so," Dr Mohammed Tariq Mehmood, marketing and public relations manager at Al Zahra said.
Dr Amr Al Elekiaby, head of the Pulmonary Diseases Department at the hospital, said getting personal commitment from the smoker is a little easier during Ramadan because people feel the urge to get over their addictions.
"We prepare them by chalking out plans, for instance how they will deal with temptation if friends are smoking," he said.
He said at Al Zahra, they use low-level laser acupuncture therapy to release endorphines hormones. "That helps smokers to deal with withdrawal symptoms and kill the craving by getting the nicotine out of the system quickly," said Al Elekiaby.
Dr Sreekumar V Nair, a psychiatrist at NMC Speciality Hospital that is running a quit-smoking programme, said self-determination and motivation are the most important factors when it comes to kicking the habit.
"The first month is the most crucial period as there are more chances that many would go back to their habit. But during this month, the success rate is high because the spirit of the fasting month comes in handy for smokers who want to get over the addiction," he said.
Dr Sreekumar said he combines medication and behavioural modification to help smokers. "The first step is to help them overcome withdrawal symptoms like headaches, restlessness, sleeplessness, increased appetite and bowel irritations," he said.
"We replace nicotine use with patches or chewing gums and then start medication to actually flush out nicotine from the body," he added.
But he was quick to add that the complete success of the programme depends on proper follow-up for at least a year.
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