The Ministry of Health decided to intensify its actions in order to make Makkah and Madinah completely smoke-free, as Haj pilgrims come to the Kingdom from all over the world.
“We need the cooperation of pilgrims in order to make the two holy cities one of those with the lowest tobacco use in the world,” stated Dr. Sameer Al-Sabban, the representative of the Anti-Smoking Campaign in Makkah, underlining that the program was intensified this year.
The sale of tobacco products is strictly prohibited in five km radiuses of the Grand Mosque and Holy Mosque in Makkah and Madinah. Advertisements and posters with anti-smoking messages, various information concerning anti-smoking clinics are displayed in the above mentioned cities. Buses carrying pilgrims will have anti-smoking posters on them. Pilgrims will be handed special folders containing postcards and flyers on the subject at the Jamrat during Haj.
“A special created team of scouts and health officials took up positions at the Grand Mosque in Makkah in order to increase awareness about the dangerous consequences caused by smoking,” stated Al-Sabban.
“It is so unpleasant to look at those smokers who gather at the back side of the Grand Mosque to light up, which is very dangerous to the entire environment of the holy city. These Saudi youths look for smokers within the holy city and give them flyers and booklets full of illustrations that can be understood by everyone,” he added.
To help pilgrims, the health ministry has created six anti-smoking clinics, being the part of the anti-smoking campaign. These clinics are open to both for men and women and all services are offered free of charge.
“Makkah is the perfect place to stop smoking, one of the five million of people who die from smoking related diseases every year all over the world are Muslim. This happens mainly because of their extravagant lifestyles and absence of knowledge of the dangers of tobacco use. I think that Haj is the best opportunity for smokers who want to quit this bad habit and also for those who understand how harmful the effects of smoking are,” stated Al-Sabban, adding that smokers harm not only themselves but also people who are around them.
A group of professional Saudi doctors will help many smokers quick the bad habit, while various websites will promote this campaign.
It was found out that in the Kingdom 35 to 40% of adults are smoking. Around 25% of male and 8 % of female pupils between the ages of 13 to 15 years smoke. The Kingdom signed the anti-tobacco agreement in May 2005. It was estimated that more than 15 billion cigarettes, worth $168 million, are smoked by Muslims each year.
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