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GPs urged to encourage smokers to quit over Ramadan

GPs should encourage their patients observing abstinence over Ramadan to give up smoking completely, urge researchers.

Muslims are required to give up eating, drinking, smoking and taking oral medications during daylight hours over Ramadan, and GP experts say this can be harnassed to encourage smokers to give up completely.

An editorial - published in the journal Addiction - by GP Professor Paul Aveyard and colleagues say the prohibition against smoking during the day and the absence of others smoking could assist the quit attempt.

They also say that the evidence suggests that behavioral approaches - such as having prohibited times of the day to smoke - are an effective way of cutting down and eventually stopping smoking without assistance from drugs.

Lead author Professor Aveyard, a GP in Solihull and senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham, states: 'One reason why behavioural approaches might work is that a person is no longer "allowed" to smoke in particular circumstances, and this could undermine a learned association between cue and smoking that many believe maintains tobacco addiction.'

He adds: ‘If we are to use Ramadan to enhance [smoking] cessation through reduction, we are likely to need to engage Muslim smokers not only to follow the fast, but to continue the method of controlling their smoking after the fast is broken.'

Addiction, 2011; 106: 1379–1380

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