09/03/2008, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA
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Ramadan in Makkah, an opportunity to quit smoking

An anti-smoking campaign is underway during the holy month. A total ban has been imposed on the sale of cigarettes. Posters urge smokers to quit; physicians and psychiatrists help them to kick the habit.
Riyadh (AsiaNews) – Ramadan as an opportunity to quit smoking is the idea behind a campaign to make Makkah smoke-free. The sale of cigarettes is forbidden; multilingual banners urge people not to smoke; officials, scouts and doctors check, explain and admonish.

“More than 100 health officials and a large contingent of scouts have taken positions around the Grand Mosque in Makkah to raise awareness about the negative effects of smoking,” said Dr. Sameer Al-Sabban, executive director of the Anti-Smoking Campaign in Makkah.

“We have launched this campaign at a time when thousands of local and foreign pilgrims are gathering at the Grand Mosque so that our message can reach the four corners of the globe,” he added.

The health message about the negative effects of smoking is printed in seven foreign languages on pictures handed to pilgrims.

“We have totally banned the sale of cigarettes in Makkah. This will not only prevent adults from buying cigarettes, children will also not be able to smoke now,” Al-Sabban explained.

Ramadan is thus providing an opportunity to help people kick the habit of smoking.

A group of Saudi physicians and psychiatrists are helping with the anti-smoking campaign. Some websites are assisting with raising awareness as well.

The Health Ministry has opened two clinics in Makkah’s Khalidia district where smokers can get free counselling. Around 50 smokers visit the clinic everyday.

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