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Doctor campaigns for more help for smokers

Dubai: The chemicals that cling to a smoker's hair and clothes can still harm a child even if the smoker does not indulge in the habit at home, a doctor has warned.

Dr Sreekumar Sreedharan, a specialist physician at Aster Medical Centre said ‘third-hand smoke' was harmful to children as they hug their smoking parent.

"We get a number of children suffering from various respiratory problems, and a smoker in the family is the big factor," he said.

The toxins in the smoker's clothes is called ‘environmental smoke' and the chemicals are linked to various problems in a child such as poor cognitive performance in school, behavioural problems and other conditions.

No substitute

"Nicotine is unique, there is no substitute for it," said the doctor, explaining how it stimulates the brain and at the same time relaxes the smoker. "That is why we give nicotine patches or gum to reduce the addiction, we do not have anything else which gives this at the same time," he said.

Nicotine enters the blood stream within seconds and within two hours its effects vanish. "That is why you need to smoke again and again," said the doctor.

The doctor said quitting smoking was the hardest thing to do. "You need counselling, you need support from friends and you need to have very strong will power." He suggested people find a smoker who has quit to help them in the fight against tobacco.

Ignorance is amazing

Dr Sreedharan believes media plays a great part in conveying the message that smoking is harmful. He said it was amazing people were still not aware that smoking had such terrible effects.

He called on authorities to spread the message through television adverts. He also called for a counselling group to help smokers quit.

Smokers are fooling themselves by believing smoking fights obesity, and that it helps concentration. "The only thing smoking is good for is that it prevents old age,'" said the doctor. "You die before your time."

Kicking the habit

The Gulf News campaign to help its readers quit smoking started on May 31. It is being supported by DM HealthCare.

Ten readers have been initially chosen to get help to quit smoking. Doctors will counsel and aid them over the next six months and up to a year.

The ‘quitters' have one thing in common — they wish to give up but cannot do it alone.

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