An Abu Dhabi clinic dedicated to helping residents quit smoking has reported a success rate of nearly 40 percent over the last 18 months and doctors have urged smokers to use Ramadan as a springboard to start giving up permanently.
The Smoking Cessation Clinic at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) treated 395 patients between January 2012 and July 15 this year. Of these, 155 had managed to successfully quit smoking long-term, giving the clinic a success rate of approximately 40 percent.
“These numbers are very important and the clinic team's efforts appear to be paying dividends, with around one out of three attendees quitting tobacco for at least six months, a figure that needs to be compared to the one out of twenty that are successful in stopping without any support," said Dr Abdul Razzak Al Kaddour, a consultant cardiologist at SKMC.
Its success is paying off as Dr Al Kaddour said the specialist clinic was now getting three or four times the number of bookings it got when it opened nearly three years ago.
"The Holy Month of Ramadan can provide the encouragement needed for a permanent cessation of smoking. If one can successfully stop during Ramadan, by the time of Eid Al Fitr, withdrawal symptoms will have disappeared, lungs will have started to repair themselves and there will be less congestion, coughing and shortness of breath noticeable,” Dr Al Kaddour said.
He added that stopping smoking not only halts, but can also reverse, the biological damage caused by the habit, and improves the success rate of treatment for conditions such as heart disease, respiratory illnesses and lung cancer.
"Smokers must not believe that if they are older that there is no point in giving up. In one study of almost 9,000 people aged 50-74, it was found that smokers who quit later on in life considerably improved their cardiovascular health within just a few years. Compared to individuals who continued smoking, the risk of heart attacks and strokes in this group reduced significantly within the first few months to years after their final cigarette. Thus, it is never too late to stop," Dr Al Kaddour explained.
The clinic, which opened in late 2010, is managed Cleveland Clinic and is owned and operated by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA).
The treatment the clinic offers is a combination of cognitive counselling and pharmacological treatment. Patients' carbon monoxide (CO) levels are monitored through a CO analyser.