Quit smoking to avoid serious complications of COVID-19: UAE Ministry

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The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has called upon all smokers and consumers of tobacco, whether traditional or electronic, to quit using these products, especially since smokers are most likely to develop severe health complications if they get infected with COVID-19, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

MoHAP made the remarks on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day 2021, observed on 31 May, stressing the importance of redoubling international efforts to raise global awareness on the harmful effects of tobacco use. This includes cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and mental disorders. Added to that is the economic burden, including direct costs such as the increase in healthcare spending and indirect costs represented in the poor productivity of the community due to early deaths and disease prevalence.

The ministry added: “The UAE has shouldered its responsibility to support international efforts being made in this respect by joining the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), while locally about 12 government entities joined forces and formed a national committee for tobacco control. The committee is concerned with drafting tobacco control-related legislation, regulations, and systems, in accordance with a national index to reduce tobacco use to 15.7 in 2021.”

The UAE has also imposed a selective tax on tobacco and its derivatives by 50 to 75 percent leading to an increase in tobacco products price and a decline in its consumers.

According to the National Health Survey 2017 – 2018, the smoking rate among men and women has reached 9.1, reflecting the positive impact of relevant national initiatives.

The ministry has launched several projects and initiatives to elevate awareness about smoking risks and to encourage smokers to quit. This includes the establishment of a network of 16 smoking cessation clinics in the primary health care centers with plans to expand, the mobile smoking cessation clinic, and other initiatives.

In order to activate the articles of the Tobacco Control Law, the Health Ministry has established effective partnerships with various government and private sectors. The ministry has also developed a guideline and an integrated training program through the “Maharti System” to enhance the capabilities and skills of the physicians to provide smoking cessation services and to standardize the work in accordance with the internationally approved treatment protocols.