Charity organization promotes giving up smoking in an innovative way
CAIRO: Smoking and its debilitating effects have become so much of a burden on modern economies and the public health system that an enterprising few have come up with innovative, if not radical, approaches to convincing nicotine addicts to kick the habit.
Gamiat Asdiqaa Al-Kheir, Friends of Welfare Society, a Nasr City-based charity organization, has, in cooperation with a team of specialists and other well-wishers launched a competition to reward every smoker who is able to break free of the menacing addiction.
Gamiat Asdiqaa Al-Kheir has for the last year been active with its Life Without Smoking anti-smoking campaign that has targeted colleges and public organizations as well as sporting clubs, giving away prizes to a number of former smokers at a special function held Thursday at Maadi Sporting Club.
Renowned journalist Salah Montasser, the first to suggest the idea of designating Feb. 9 as Non-Smoking Day, was on hand to push for annual recognition of the anti-smoking drive.
Of 52 contestants that entered the competition sponsored by Al-Araby Electronics at the beginning of Ramadan, only 14 have managed to emerge as non-smokers at the end of the holy month – a rather dismal performance.
“The contestants, 36 of whom are under the age of 25, underwent several tests before they could start, said Dr Wael Safwat, the team’s medical adviser. At the end of the month they were retested to confirm that they had adhered to a non-smoking routine, he added.
“Initially the winners were 17 but before the end of the month three had relapsed. If we say that 30 percent of the contestants have shown positive signs, this should be an encouraging start.
“Although many failed, they still have contributed with their efforts and will be given appreciatory certificates. The prizes aren’t an end in themselves. They are another form of inculcating the required awareness in a country that is recording an increasing number of smokers day after day, he added.
According to statistics, some 80 billion cigarettes are consumed every year in Egypt at the cost of LE 39 million a day with some smokers ignorant about the fact that tobacco contains 4,000 harmful substances.
For every three people who give up smoking in Europe and North Africa, one person gets addicted in the Arab world.
Addressing the function, Montasser, who is well-known for his strong worded columns on the ill-effects of smoking, pointed out that despite their respect for personal freedom, many Western countries are investing money and effort to combat the habit, which they consider pernicious to development plans and progress.
“One of these is Norway, which is planning to become a non-smoking nation by 2025, remarked Montasser. “Singapore is also adopting similar plans, all of which shows that none is ready to compromise on public health even when it has to boost one of the most lucrative industries, added Montasser.
This is the first such prize-giving function organized by Asdiqaa Al-Kheir to fight off smoking. Other similar competitions are scheduled to take place at other sporting clubs and colleges with the move gaining momentum as many companies are volunteering to offer prizes.