x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Smokers in the UAE get a helping hand to kick the habit

Free carbon-monoxide tests were being given to smokers at malls to help them kick the habit as part of World No Tobacco Day.

Staff of a Zoom store at a ENOC petrol station cleaned the cigarette display case as they were not selling tobacco products in their stores on World No Tobacco Day in Dubai. Charles Crowell for The National
Staff of a Zoom store at a ENOC petrol station cleaned the cigarette display case as they were not selling tobacco products in their stores on World No Tobacco Day in Dubai. Charles Crowell for The National

ABU DHABI // Mall visitors picked up more than just their shopping yesterday - they also left with ways to quit smoking.

Information leaflets and free carbon-monoxide tests were being given to smokers to help them kick the habit as part of World No Tobacco Day.

Juan Carlo, 30, was among those getting tips on how to quit at Abu Dhabi Mall. The father-of-two said his children were his motivation for stubbing out for good.

"I think of my children. I want to see them grow up. I don't want to be dead because of smoking," he said.

The Abu Dhabi resident, who is from the Philippines, has smoked on and off for 10 years.

"I have tried to quit a lot of times. On my birthday last April I promised I would not smoke again, but I can't avoid it," he said.

"It's very good that they have this to make the city smoke-free and to make the city healthy."

After blowing into a machine, Palestinian Rami Alasmar, 24, found out 5.4 per cent of his blood contained carbon monoxide.

"I was expecting more but it's high. Of course it will make me think," said the Abu Dhabi resident, who has smoked for nine years. "I won't quit now, I will reduce it. Maybe in a month I will quit."

Ahmed El Daly, a medical representative from pharmaceutical company Novartis Consumer Health, was conducting the tests as part of the initiative, which was held in partnership with the Health Authority Abu Dhabi.

"I have a machine that analyses carbon-monoxide concentration in the blood, which increases according to the number of cigarettes a person smokes a day," he said.

World No Tobacco Day was marked in the UAE in many ways yesterday. In Dubai some shops stopped selling tobacco for the day. The voluntary move was part of Dubai Municipality's initiative to mark the annual global health message.

Salman Farooqi, 37, from Dubai, began smoking at 18 and welcomed No Tobacco Day, but said it would make little difference to smokers. "The idea of it is good, especially for me as I want to quit, but one day won't make much of a difference," he said.

A more effective way to discourage people from smoking would be to target younger people, he said, and for the government to shock people out of smoking.

"In places like the UK they have very shocking adverts warning of the health problems for smokers and they should bring that here."

ecleland@thenational.ae

* Additional reporting by Nadeem Hanif