Since smoking is among the activities that faithful Muslims deny themselves from sunup to sundown during Ramadan, the holy month that began Thursday, Muslim doctors are suggesting that American Muslims build on that smoke-free time to quit the habit.
Dr Tariq Cheema, executive director of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America, said Thursday that Appna and its partners in the project do not plan to restrict the quit-smoking drive to the mosque.
We re trying to capitalize on this, taking it to communities, faith-based schools, letting the children take it home to their mothers and fathers, Cheema said.
Appna and the Islamic Medical Association of North America are partnering in the project with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based civil rights and advocacy group. Appna is based in Westmont, Ill., while Imana is based in Lombard, Ill.
One of the important benefits of the Ramadan fast is the sense of discipline that it instills in an individual, the council s chief operating officer, Tahra Goraya, said in a statement. We can use that discipline to help eliminate a major threat to public health.
Cheema said such campaigns are difficult because the problem is that people are not really worried about smoking.
He said he worked with doctors at the World Health Organization in the late 1990s to get a WHO convention passed which would include restrictions on tobacco advertising. The greatest resistance came from developed countries, he said.
WHO finally agreed to a Tobacco Free Initiative in 1998, which eventually grew into the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world s first binding public health treaty, in 2003.
Cheema said the WHO project was the first he knew of to seek rulings from religious scholars about tobacco s dangers. Associated Press