(MENAFN - Arab News) Riyadh-based Indian social organizations Trivandrum Expatriates Association (TEXA) and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have launched a major campaign to generate awareness about the hazards of smoking with a mission to encourage smokers, mainly Indian nationals working in the Kingdom, to shun this habit.
"The campaign is timed to coincide with World No Tobacco Day on May 31," TEXA President Dr. S. Abdul Azeez said on Sunday.
Azeez said the new anti-smoking campaign is using various tools - including graphic images, smokers' horror stories and a trilingual brochure containing alarming details of the adverse impact of smoking on human health - to drive the message home. The campaign was officially launched at the new Safa Makkah Hall in Batha district of the capital city yesterday.
The event was attended by a large number of guests, including doctors and executives as well as office bearers of TEXA, IMA and other Indian forums. IMA President Dr. Thampi inaugurated the function. Dr. Suresh Mangalath released the trilingual brochure by giving the first copy to George Kutty, TEXA secretary. The brochure gives a detailed explanation of the diseases caused by smoking, impact of passive smoking, and the harmful effects of the chemicals and ingredients found in tobacco smoke.
Dr. Abdul Azeez and another doctor, Mohammed Rafeeq, spoke about the hazards of smoking, focusing on the smoking trends among teenagers. Dr. Abdul Azeez said each year, tobacco causes more deaths than the number of deaths from HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, road accidents, suicides and murders combined. Smoking cigarettes, pipes, or cigars increases the risk of cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx and oral cavity, he added.
Even smokeless tobacco is a known cause for cancer, said the TEXA president, adding that the nicotine in smokeless tobacco may increase the risk of sudden death from a condition where the heart does not beat properly (ventricular arrhythmias) and, as a result, the heart pumps little or no blood to the organs.
Speaking after launching the campaign, Dr. Abdul Azeez said, "It is important to cut the number of people smoking. I am particularly concerned about smoking rates amongst young people, and we can't passively watch future generations smoke away their health."
Dr. Abdul Azeez, who is a public health specialist working for the Ministry of Health, said all individuals and government agencies should work together to achieve a smoke-free society.
Spelling out the salient features of the campaign, the TEXA president said the campaign with the slogan "I am a non-smoker expatriate" would continue until May 31. As part of the campaign, there will be several clinic-based training sessions for health are staff, while seminars and poster shows will also be organized. TEXA and IMA have produced a pamphlet, which will be distributed among people to generate more awareness about the negative impact of smoking, he added.
These Indian social groups will also hold awareness classes in labor camps and schools of the city with special emphasis on teenage smoking. Dr. Abdul Azeez said the clinic-based programs would be coordinated by the assigned team leaders. The TEXA and IMA representatives will take care of anti-smoking activities in other provinces in Saudi Arabia, he added.
TEXA Middle East, a UAE-based organization, will take the campaign to the region at large. Concurrently, there will be similar programs in the Indian provinces of Kerala and Lakshadweep. "The aim of the TEXA and IMA leaders is to spread the campaign even to Europe and America through sending widespread anti-smoking awareness e-mail messages," said Dr. Abdul Azeez.
A program committee consisting of TEXA and IMA members, clinic representatives, and media persons has been formed to run the campaign successfully. He noted that the first pilot survey for smokers using a questionnaire was conducted in November 2011. Abdul Nazar, welcomed the guests and delivered the vote of thanks.