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KT For Good: Stop the 'serial killer, quit smoking'

Filed on January 26, 2020 | Last updated on January 26, 2020 at 06.12 am
kt for good, quit smoking, smoke, tobacco, smokefreeuae

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This week-long campaign seeks to power you through a 'quit journey' towards a #SmokeFreeUAE.

Tobacco is a slow killer, but it is also a serial killer that snuffs out six million lives globally every year. Despite government efforts to contain this menace, more and more people are falling into the tobacco trap with or without realising the harmful health impacts of smoking.

The UAE is no different. According to a 2016 census, more than 2,900 people in the UAE have died from tobacco-induced illness within a year, as per a report by the American Cancer Society in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

That is equal to 12.84 per cent of all deaths among men in the country and 6.05 per cent deaths of all women.

Of the 4,500 new cancer cases reported each year in the Emirates, 150 are of lung cancer, according to the official cancer portal of the UAE Government.

The prevalence of smoking is high among Emirati men and it has been found to be a key cause of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), shows another study.

It was the first study of its kind, covering 977 Emiratis aged over 18 years - including 492 women - who did not have any history of CVD or its risk factors.

It revealed Emirati men who smoke are nearly twice as likely to develop CVD than non-smokers.

Doctors have also time and again warned that people who smoke are at great risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart diseases, and cancer.

Not only cigarettes

While smoking is the primary form of tobacco use in the UAE, use of medwakh or dokha and shisha (water pipes) is popular among residents.

A health screening study done in Abu Dhabi in 2016 showed that almost 30 per cent of Emiratis in their 30s smoked medwakh.

Many youngsters turned to dokha after the government tightened laws on the use and sale of cigarettes and shisha in the country.

In one study on high school students in Dubai, it was found that 72.1 per cent of students have used tobacco during their lifetime.

Economic aspect

While smoking affects the health of a population, use of tobacco also leaves an ailing economy.

According to a WHO report, the economic burden of tobacco use on the UAE amounts to Dh1.044 billion.

"This burden includes direct costs, namely, increased expenditures on healthcare, and indirect costs of low productivity due to premature death rates and diseases."

With so much at stake, it is imperative to mount a joint offensive against the global epidemic of tobacco use.

The UAE Government is leading the fight by putting in place stringent policies - like levying new tax on tobacco and banning smoking in public places - to curb the use of tobacco in the country.

However, the UAE can be totally smoke-free only when there is real change in individual habits.

anjana@khaleejtimes.com

Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a journalist by profession and a humanist by passion. Her cluttered desk is not indicative of her state of mind.


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