Dr Abdullah Shehu, Chair of the Health and Medical Committee of the Muslim Council of Britain said, “Smoking is a serious health issue for Asian communities. Muslims in particular suffer from higher rates of respiratory symptoms, heart disease, severe chest pain and long-standing illness than Sikhs or Hindus. What’s more, avoiding smoking is in keeping with the teachings of Islam as Allah (SWT) Has forbidden us harming ourselves in the Quran and for this reason, a lot of Ulamas have categorised SMOKING as HARAM. Yet there seems to be a relatively poor understanding of the link between tobacco smoking and serious illness in our community – Bangladeshi and Pakistani men are in fact twice as likely to believe smoking has ‘no effect’ on their current health. I would strongly encourage all Muslim smokers to call the NHS Asian Tobacco Helpline during Ramadan for help with kicking the habit. It will be an act of ibada (worship) that helps to keep you healthier.”
Did you know?
Many Muslim groups in Britain have worse health than non-Muslim communities. Muslims have more heart diseases, severe chest pain and long-standing illness than either Sikhs or Hindus. Also, respiratory symptoms amongst Muslims are higher in prevalence than among Hindus and Sikhs (18% compared to 14%). All of these problems are attributable to smoking.
Asian women have a 51% and men a 46% higher chance of dying prematurely from a coronary heart disease and Pakistanis and Bangladeshis have a five times higher incidence of diabetes compared to the general population. Indians have a three times higher rate.
At current prices, a 20-a-day smoker will spend approximately £1,825 on cigarettes over one year. In the Q’uran, Allah says: “Do not waste your resources extravagantly, indeed the squanderers are the brethren of the devil”. (S 17: v26)
Smoking is a problem for the British Asian community more generally:
Smoking prevalence in Asian communities
40% of Bangladeshi males, 29% of Pakistani males and 20% of Indian males are all addicted to smoking. In the general population 26% of men and 23% of women smoke. Smoking rates amongst Asian communities are often higher than the national average and this is particularly the case with the male population.
Rates of chewing tobacco are much higher among many Asian communities than the rest of the UK population – 9% of Bangladeshi men and 16% of Bangladeshi women chew tobacco. Chewing tobacco greatly increases your chance of contracting oral cancer. Chewing tobacco is particularly prevalent amongst Bangladeshi women aged 55 and over with 29% of this group admitting to the habit.
Smoking related diseases
Chronic Heart Disease death rate among women from South Asian communities is around 50% higher (at 20%) than the average for UK women (at 14%). Chronic Heart Disease claims the lives of over 54,000 women in the UK each year. This is more than four times the number of deaths caused by breast cancer and more than any other single cause of death.
Giving up smoking
Of men that have smoked regularly at some stage in their life in Britain, Pakistani and Bangladeshi men are the least likely groups of males to have successfully stopped smoking, with only one in five men who had ever smoked regularly having given up.