Doha, 29 March, 2020: Specialists at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Tobacco Control Center are advising smokers to quit the harmful habit, saying that all forms of smoking can reduce the respiratory system’s ability to fight viral and bacterial infections. Dr. Ahmad Al Mulla, Head of HMC’s Tobacco Control Center, said the Center will continue to offer support to those who are wanting to quit smoking by providing telephone-based consultations and treatment.
Dr. Al Mulla explained that residents seeking support to quit smoking can call 4025 4981 or 5080 0959 to book an appointment. He said patients will be called by one of the Center’s doctors who will conduct an assessment to determine the patient’s level of nicotine dependence. From there the doctor will develop a treatment plan and may prescribe medication that can be collected from one of HMC’s pharmacies using the automated medication dispensing system.
Dr. Al Mulla said the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most people to change their daily routine by affecting their ability to go to work, school, the mosque, and even how they greet each other. He said while it can be a stressful period for many people, it is also an opportunity to quit the harmful habit of smoking, which can negatively impact a person’s health, both short- and long-term.
Commenting on the recently announced ban on waterpipe/shisha smoking in all cafes and restaurants in Qatar, Dr. Al Mulla said the practice of sharing shisha by smokers in these places can spread germs and viruses, which in addition to COVID-19 include herpes, hepatitis, and the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. He said the COVID-19 virus is highly contagious and is easily spread from person to person and is believed to be able to survive on surfaces and in the air for many hours. He said shisha tools are an ideal environment for the transmission of this virus, underscoring the reason for the ban.
Dr. Jamal Abdullah, Smoking Cessation Specialist at HMC’s Tobacco Control Center, said that all forms of smoking weaken the respiratory system’s natural defense mechanism and make smokers more vulnerable to viral infections. He said smoking can also lead to a slower recovery from these infections.
Dr. Abdullah added that smoking is also considered a risk factor for many diseases, including cardiovascular diseases and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It has been observed in China that a large number of reported deaths related to COVID-19 were in people with these chronic diseases. Dr. Abdullah urged all smokers to quit the unhealthy habit to experience the benefits of smoking cessation and to boost their immunity against viral infections.