A Good Time for Muslims to Quit
Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 13th August, 2009
NHS Tower Hamlets’ Stop Smoking team deserve congratulations for standing outside the East London Mosque the other day, handing out leaflets explaining their campaign to ‘Make Ramadan a good time to Stop!’ During Ramadan — which is scheduled to begin at the end of next week — pious Muslims must not eat, drink, smoke or engage in sexual intercourse between dawn and the evening breaking of the fast. And health campaigners would like to persuade Muslim smokers that Ramadan is the perfect time to quit smoking completely. According to NHS statistics, 22 per cent of deaths in Tower Hamlets (where I live) are smoking-related, compared with 18 per cent for London as a whole. As Jill Goddard, tobacco control lead for NHS Tower Hamlets, told the East London Advertiser, ‘Tower Hamlets has some of the highest smoking rates in London and within the Bangladeshi community one of the highest in the country.’ I have lost count of the number of times I have seen young Bengali boys — and they always are boys — puffing on a cigarette as they make their way home from school in the afternoon. Doubtless they think that smoking is cool, but the mosque and their elders could usefully tell them: it ain’t cool, it’s potentially lethal.