UAE doctors say more women smoking shisha
Dubai, May 25, 2009
More UAE women are taking up smoking shisha as part of a worrying new lifestyle trend, respiratory doctors have revealed in the lead up to the 'World No Tobacco Day' on May 31.
Although traditionally it is men who smoke in the Middle East, doctors say they are seeing increasing numbers of women coming in with respiratory complaints and smoking-related diseases as a result of shisha smoking.
The extent of the problem is unknown and made more difficult to assess by the fact that the smoking goes on behind closed doors, and hidden from view.
“We do not know how many ladies smoke shisha, because they go to a private area of a café and smoke, but we are in the process of conducting research to determine how prevalent water-pipe shisha smoking has become. It’s a big thing for ladies to do now and shows that the health risks of smoking are not just about cigarettes,” said Dr Bassam Mahboub, a chest physician and vice chairman of the Emirates Respiratory Society.
Unless action is taken to tackle the issue, cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – a debilitating respiratory illness almost solely associated with smoking – would soar among females in the next five to 10 years, Dr Mahboub warned.
Smoking cessation clinics needed to be set up in women’s health centres and maternity hospitals to help females quit, added Dr. Mahboub.
Such clinics, which offer addiction counselling and access to new anti-smoking medications, such as Pfizer’s Champix, have been shown to be highly successful, upping quit rates almost four-fold after 12 weeks.
Some have already been set up in the UAE as part of a raft of anti-smoking measures, but none specifically targets women.
“Females using shisha is a major problem, and when they come for a pregnancy test they should be asked about this and encouraged to stop, and quit smoking clinics should be there to help them,” concluded Dr Mahboub.
The UAE government signed the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in November 2004, and approved Champix (varenicline) in 2007 as part of its anti-smoking strategy.
The approval of Champix (varenicline) by the UAE’s drug regulator was based on a comprehensive clinical trial involving 4,000 cigarette users, who smoked on average 21 cigarettes for 25 years.
Results showed that those receiving a 12-week course of varenicline therapy (1mg twice daily), plus educational material and counseling at clinic visits, were nearly four times as likely to quit as those taking placebo.
WHO’s World No Tobacco Day aims to focus attention on the dangers of tobacco, which is the direct cause of death in half of all users.-TradeArabia News Service