DUBAI: A person who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day spends around Dh105 a week, or about Dh5,040 a year, in the process picking up afflictions that start with chronic coughs and end at six feet under.
Not a surprise, ergo, that more and more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in international city that never sleeps, have been coming to terms with themselves and beginning to kick the habit.
Specialists interviewed by The Filipino Times said primary concerns they received in their medical centers and clinics are smoking-related respiratory issues.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are over 7 million premature deaths due to tobacco, annually. More than six million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 890,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
“Smoking can cause many types of cancer (lung, breast, etc), any lung diseases, heart diseases, stroke, and diabetes. Smoking reduces a woman’s chances of getting pregnant; and for pregnant women there are some complications like miscarriage, premature delivery, low birth weight babies and some other certain birth defects,” said Dr. Aileen Villanueva HOD, NMC Mabuhay Clinic.
“In the Gulf region,” for his part said Dr. Harbi Darwish, thoracic surgery specialist at Bareen International Hospital – MBZ City, “many people die each year from lung cancer because they do not realize the effect of smoking on the body.”
To put matters in perspective, Dr. Natalie Rose Reynes, internal medicine specialist at Klinika Maharlika – Abu Dhabi, said: “Someone smoking a pack a day spends about Dh105 a week on cigarettes, which is over Dh5,000 each year.”
Added Darwish: “When you smoke, you lose oxygen during inhalation, and your lungs lose their elasticity and capacity to breathe. Your heart has to work harder to pump oxygen around your body.
“Our biggest concern is health education of the residents in the UAE. The general public needs to understand the risks involved and why smoking is so dangerous. When people get a chronic cough or see blood in the mucus, they often think it is a cold or a virus; they ignore their symptoms and go only to the doctor when the disease is in its advanced stages – that is a huge problem.”
Some15.9 million Filipino adults currently smoked tobacco products – 40.3 % are male and 5.15 are women, said Reynes, citing the Philippines’ Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS).
It’s never too late to quit, the doctors said.
“Counselling and medications are both effective for treating cigarette dependence and using them together is more effective than using either one alone,” said Villanueva. “I always remind my patients who are smokers – especially those who still have young children: think of your family, if you love your family, you can quit smoking without second thoughts, it’s never too late.”
“Smokers are at higher risk to develop lung disease such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), lung cancer. It can also cause frequent trigger of asthma attack,” said Dr. Pat Avery Masecampo of Jupiter Specialty Medical Center
May 31 is World No Tobacco Day.