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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Qatar sees a 300% increase in smokers wanting to quit

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With Covid-19 acting as a wakeup call for many to take greater care of their health, more people in Qatar are now seeking help to quit smoking.

Hamad Medical Corporation [HMC]’s Tobacco Control Centre saw a 300% surge in people visiting the facility to quit smoking during the pandemic, specialists told Qatar TV on Monday.

According to Dr Jamal Bashi, a smoking cessation specialist at HMC, the clinic used to receive around 1,000 smokers a month before the coronavirus pandemic.

However, last year saw a huge increase in patients coinciding with the spread of COVID-19, a virus that can prove lethal to smokers in particular. The number of those wanting to shed the habit rose to 3,000 patients a month.

Read also: Qatar opens new clinic to help smokers quit

Dr. Bashi explains that one of the factors of such surge stems from people’s realisation of how vulnerable they are to the virus, especially given that smokers show more severe Covid symptoms than non-smokers globally. 

The increase, he added, has led to the expansion of the facilities to be able to cater to the thousands of people seeking a healthier, more secure life.  

“The increased demand has made the centre expand its capacity and continue to offer consultations and assistance for these people remotely through telephone calls, and deliver the necessary medications at home,” said Bashi. 

Earlier this week, the centre opened a new dedicated smoking cessation clinic at Hazm Mebaireek General Hospital (HMGH) to cater to the demand. HMC also announced that though the new clinic will operate on Mondays, there are plans ongoing to expand hours to cope with future demands as needed. 

The clinic offers its services either on a heavily subsidised basis or completely free of cost to all patients to ensure people seeking a healthier life have a means to achieving their goals. 

Treatment plans include the usage of “sophisticated technology and treatment methods, including behavioural therapy, from highly specialised experts.”

Qatar has been working towards decreasing the number of smokers for a while. Two years ago, the government imposed a 100% tax rate on all tobacco products. 

Are you someone who has tried or has successfully stopped smoking this year? Share with us your experience in the comments below. 

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