Smoking science, lit. girls alarm university

Officials from Dammam University’s faculties of Literature and Sciences have called in the services of a counselor from the Health Affairs’ anti-smoking program after figures revealed that 8.6 percent of female students from the two faculties smoke, Al-Watan reported Saturday.

Dr. Ahlam Al-Dossari, a Family and Society Medicine consultant and Health Affairs coordinator, has been asked to present a program to students at the faculties to curb the increase in their use of tobacco.

“The program is targeting all levels of university education and consists of an awareness exhibition, a film relating the stories of smokers who have contracted cancer and other smoking-related illnesses, and a two-week series of lectures on the dangers of smoking,” Al-Dossari said.

Students of literature at the university were found by a study to be the most avid smokers of the two faculties, with 12.1 percent practicing the habit, compared to a more modest 3.4 percent at the Faculty of Sciences.

The survey covered 1,020 students of various years selected randomly from the two faculties. 54.5 percent said they smoked cigarettes and 43.2 percent shisha pipe tobacco, with 44.3 percent of cigarette smokers saying they started “out of curiosity” and 26.1 percent saying it was out of boredom. The average age at which students started smoking was found to be 16.

“Raising health awareness is one of the most important ways of getting people to give up smoking,” Al-Dossari said. “There are also clinics which have comprehensive programs that help addicts kick the habit.”

She cited the clinic in Al-Khobar that works “hand in hand” with the Al-Amal Mental Health Hospital in Dammam and “Kafa” – the Society to Combat Smoking.

“These are specialized clinics based on detailed research work on the condition of patients and their willingness to receive treatment,” she said.

“The length of time they have been smoking is documented along with how many cigarettes a day they smoke.”

According to Al-Dossari, two forms of treatment are offered.

“One involves administering vibrations in the ear that works similar to acupuncture and is given for half-an-hour a day for five consecutive days, the other involves the rather expensive but effective Champix, a prescription pill designed to help stop smoking,” she said. “The Ministry of Health might in the future pay to cover its costs.”

Saudi Gazette

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