WHO report says one in four males in UAE are smokers
Twenty one years have passed since World No Tobacco Day was first introduced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to draw global attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and to its negative health effects. Despite the progress made, WHO estimates that there are more than one billion smokers in the world today, with tobacco use killing 5.4 million people a year - an average of one person every six seconds.
In the UAE, the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2008 estimates that over one quarter (27.2%) of the male population smoke tobacco, compared to only 2.4% of the female population. The Ministry of Health has been actively fighting the prevalence of smoking in the country through various initiatives designed to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking and to discourage the habit.
Despite the risks, many smokers continue this fatal habit largely due to the addictive nature of nicotine. The report says that “among smokers who are aware of the dangers of tobacco, three out of four want to quit. But like people dependent on any addictive drug, it is difficult for most tobacco users to quit on their own, and they benefit from help and support to overcome their dependence.”
The most widely used method of quitting is going "cold turkey", which means relying solely on willpower to quit. Even though willpower is essential, nicotine is so addictive that people often underestimate how difficult it is to resist cravings and many go back to smoking simply to avoid dealing with nicotine withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be partly relieved through Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), which helps to ease the quitting process and avoid a relapse.
George Wagih, spokesperson for the ‘Nicorette’ Nicotine Replacement Therapy range, says that “over 35 million smokers try to quit each year, yet less than 5% reach their one-year anniversary. Nicotine addiction drives the smoking habit, and unless smokers can beat the cravings that come from nicotine addiction, they can't beat the habit.
“Nicotine replacement therapy, such as Nicorette patches, is designed to deliver controlled amounts of nicotine at a slower, less intense pace,” he adds. “It relieves cravings while allowing smokers to gradually wean themselves off nicotine addiction.”
According to the WHO report, “in addition to medical advice and quit lines (telephone support), effective treatment can also include pharmacological treatment such as NRT. NRT can double quit rates and reduces withdrawal symptoms by substituting for some of the nicotine absorbed from tobacco.”
WHO statistics show that tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world. It causes 1 in 10 deaths among adults worldwide and kills up to half of all users. 100 million deaths were caused by tobacco in the last century, and if current trends continue, there will be up to one billion deaths in this century. World No Tobacco Day is observed around the world every year on May 31.