AJMAN // More than 300 people were helped to quit cigarettes last year by a free clinic in Ajman.
Dr Mohammed Tahir, who runs the clinic at the City Medical Centre of Ajman, said the number seeking help to quit tobacco had increased in recent months.
“After a smoker turns up at the clinic the doctors do a number of medical tests and counselling, all for free,” Dr Tahir said.
He said 324 people gave up smoking last year, bringing the number of patients who have quit after visiting the clinic to 1,618 since it opened in 2008.
Dr Tahir praised the Government's recent anti-tobacco measures, such as banning smoking in public areas and stopping the sale of cigarettes in residential areas.
“Health initiatives such as opening more smoking-cessation clinics also played an important role in helping people quit,” he said.
“The clinic is giving attention to certain groups of society, like children and students who are more likely to take up the habit because of peer pressure from their colleagues who smoke, and will then hide it from their parents.”
Dr Tahir said some students had been referred to him from their school clinics.
Protecting children was a key part of the recent anti-tobacco law that banned smoking in cars when travelling with youngsters under 12.
Help and treatment for people looking to quit is not restricted to health insurance card holders and is open to everyone in the emirate.
But Dr Tahir said more education was needed to tell people how harmful other kinds of smoking, such as shisha and dokha, can be to their health.
Sharjah also runs several programmes aimed at helping residents to stop smoking, including one organised during Ramadan by the Awqaf and Islamic Affairs department.
It offers a prize of Dh10,000 to any smoker who quits the habit using the programme during the Holy Month.
But despite the help at hand and the number of successes, Dr Tahir said there is still a high percentage of residents who register for the programme and fail to kick the habit.
Ali M, who lives in Sharjah, said he knew the danger of smoking and had been in two cessation programmes during Ramadan, but failed to give up completely.
“Quitting, unlike starting, is not as easy as some may think,” Ali said. “The main advice I would give non-smokers is never to start, as that is far easier than quitting.
“However, I’m willing to give more cessation programmes a trial and no matter how many attempts it takes the only result I want is to quit.”