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Shisha smoking typically increases during Ramadan: Expert

Shishas become part of tradition of gathering with friends, family

By Olivia Olarte-ulherr/senior Reporter

Published: Mon 22 Jun 2015, 1:04 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:10 PM

Abu Dhabi - Shisha smoking typically increases during Ramadan. Non-smokers also tend to pick up the habit during the month, doctors in the Capital have said.

  “Ramadan brings with it many evening social activities revolving around food, drink and spending time with friends and family. As we spend more time in the lively atmosphere of restaurants, a marked increase in tobacco consumption occurs due to shisha smoking among smokers and non-smokers,” said Dr Sunil Sheshadri, internal medicine specialist at NMC Day Surgery in Mohammed bin Zayed City.

  “Such habits make it difficult to maintain healthy habits, and many smokers have reported that they actually end up smoking much more during Ramadan. Non-smokers too admit to indulging in post-meal shishas as part of the holy month’s tradition of gathering with friends and family until the early hours.” Dr Joseph Kurian, head of cardiology at LLH Hospital, said: “Shisha smoking is definitely a problem as many take up smoking shisha after breaking their fast or after they abstain from everything else.”


He warned of the dangers of shisha. “One session of shisha is equivalent to about one packet of cigarettes (20 sticks) and should not be taken lightly. It has a drastic effect on health as it aggravates cardiac problems and worsens blood pressure.

“Smoking in any form, anytime is bad for health; smoking even in small dose is bad for your health as this could aggravate asthma and other chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases,” he pointed out.

  Dr Kurian cautioned smokers about the increased risk of heart attack.

 “Smoking is the most important preventable factor in the development of heart disease. Smoking alone is responsible for five million deaths annually worldwide, second to hypertension which is seven million. With hypertension, we cannot do anything about it, but the good thing with smoking is this is totally preventable.”

 Reduce duration

Quit smoking in any form, the doctors advised. But for those who cannot kick the habit, Dr Kurian suggested to reduce the duration of shisha sessions.

  “If they usually take a one-hour session, reduce it to 20 to 30 minutes, this way less amount of smoke chemicals goes into the system. Reduce it to as much as you can cut down and reduce the number of shisha (sessions) in a week. If you are in the habit of taking it every day, do an alternate session and, again, duration should be reduced,” he stressed.


“Ramadan should be taken as an opportunity to quit smoking. Individuals who are fasting or who refrain from smoking during the day therefore should aim to continue abstaining between Iftar and Suhur. Of course, this is easier said than done, as sadly the frequency of smoking tends to increase due to the social nature of Ramadan, making it difficult for smokers to commit to quitting. In such cases, however, smokers should at least avoid chain smoking at Iftar and Suhoor, and try their best to control their cravings,” advised Dr Sheshadri. According to him, there are there are other activities that can help control the cravings.

  “Go for a light walk around your home, office or building to clear your mind. You can also review the reasons you have decided to quit smoking and remind yourself of the benefits of quitting smoking. In order to keep your mind off things, try to keep yourself busy by carrying out tasks and light chores.

 “Instead of focusing on what you are giving up, it is helpful to realise all the wonderful benefits of stopping smoking that go beyond better health and longevity. People who stop smoking can look forward to food tasting better, since quitting brings a swift return of the senses and the taste of many foods can become more intense than before.

“People can also look forward to clearer, younger looking skin, as well as, less anxiety, as the stressful nicotine withdrawal symptoms between cigarettes is no longer experienced,” Dr Sheshadri said.


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