Muslims in London Borough of Tower Hamlets have launched a new campaign to help smokers quit tobacco before the holy fasting month of Ramadan, offering them counseling and health services.
“Ramadan is an ideal time to start healthy habits,” Dr Somen Banerjee, director of public health at Tower Hamlets Council, told East London Advertiser on Wednesday, May 28.
“The health and financial benefits of quitting tobacco extend beyond a few weeks as you greatly reduce your risk of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.”
The new Quit Tobacco Before Ramadan campaign is run by the council in collaboration with stop smoking advisers, local Imams, health professionals and the Bangladeshi Stop Tobacco Project.
Ahead of the holy month, the council will set up advice centers at mosques and libraries across Tower Hamlets.
The Tower Hamlets borough was picked for having the highest levels of smoking and smokeless tobacco use through shisha pipes in London.
The campaign launch comes ahead of the annual World No Tobacco Day on May 31, led by the World Health Organization, which calls on countries to raise taxes on tobacco.
The number of Tower Hamlet smokers has been decreasing recently after about 1,400 people signed up to local quit smoking services since April.
“I really encourage people of all ages to speak to your GP or pharmacy and take on the challenge of stopping smoking before and beyond Ramadan,” Dr Sam Everington, chair of NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group, and a local GP, said.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million.
In Ramadan, fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur’an and good deeds.
Muslims also dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
The majority of Muslims prefer to pay Zakah for the poor and needy during the month.
Scholars in many parts of the world have already taken on smoking.
In 2006, Lebanon's top Shiite scholar Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Fadlallah issued a fatwa ordering his followers to stop smoking.
Saudi scholars have supported a major crackdown on smoking in the holy city of Makkah.
In January 2009, about 700 scholars of Indonesia Ulemas Council (MUI) banned smoking in public places and for children and pregnant women.