The Ministry of Health and Prevention has launched a comprehensive campaign to enhancee community awareness about the detrimental impacts of tobacco products, as part of its ongoing effort to tackle smoking habits, support individuals in their journey to quit, and promote public health.
Organized by MoHAP’s Health Promotion Department, the campaign ran from May 22 to 31, coinciding with World No-Tobacco Day, observed annually on May 31. Several activities were organized by the ministry during this period in collaboration with its representative offices across various emirates.
A series of workshops and lectures formed the backbone of the campaign, which provided health education on the harms of tobacco and effective methods to quit smoking. Additionally, "nicotine" tests were available for participants who attended the events.
The campaign activities were organized at several key locations, including the Ajman Transport Authority, Emirates National Schools in Sharjah and Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain University, and the Emirates Association for Social Development in Ras Al Khaimah.
The activities aimed to shed light on the dangers of both smoking and passive smoking in all forms. They also sought to underline the risk posed to lung health by smoking as well as equip young people with essential knowledge to resist the allure of tobacco marketing strategies targeted at them.
Healthy, smoke-free society
HE Dr Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Undersecretary for the Public Health Sector, stressed that MoHAP is prioritizing tobacco control, hence it’s increasing community awareness about the harms of smoking. "We have dedicated an integrated anti-tobacco strategy to build a healthier, smoke-free society through the National Tobacco Control Program. We have also listed the reduction of tobacco consumption as a key pillar of the national health agenda."
"Thanks to the directives of our wise leadership, the UAE has been one of the first countries to join the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005. This agreement includes vital measures to curb the demand for tobacco and lessen its production and distribution." Al Rand said.
He went on to say that the ministry has issued legislation supporting anti-smoking measures, including Tobacco Control Law No. 15 of 2009 and its executive regulations, which apply to all electronic tobacco products. “We will continue to organize awareness campaigns to warn against these products and encourage individuals to quit them, thus reducing the negative effects of their use.”
Programs and initiatives
Dr Hussein Al Rand added that the UAE has been one of the leading countries in the region, abiding by top-notch international standards and practices in the fight against smoking. He attributed this success to the numerous programs and initiatives put forth and carried out by the country's health authorities. Al Rand further emphasized that the serious efforts of the UAE have paid off, effectively reducing the number of adult smokers by 18% since 2010, as per the Health Survey data from the period of 2017–2018.
For her part, Nouf Khamis Al Ali, Director of the Health Promotion Department at MoHAP, said that World No-Tobacco Day is an essential occasion to draw the public's attention to the many adverse and damaging effects of tobacco and smoking, including the chronic diseases they can cause, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and mental illnesses.
Al Ali added that MoHAP has launched several initiatives to raise public awareness of smoking's dangers and encourage individuals to abandon this harmful habit. These include "Smarter …than to start smoking" campaign, the "I Quit... Now It's Your Turn" campaigns, as well as the deployment of a series of mobile clinics at primary health care centres designed to aid in smoking cessation.
Additionally, Al Ali noted that the ministry has forged productive partnerships with various governmental and private sectors to activate the enforcement of the tobacco control law and regulation. “The ministry also issued a guide and launched a training program to enhance doctors' abilities and skills in providing smoking cessation services. Furthermore, MoHAP has organized several awareness campaigns via social media, highlighting the perils of tobacco use.” She further said.