View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

UAE Offers 10,000 Dirhams to Quit Smoking during Ramadan

Giving Up for Cash
The Gulf News reports that the Sharjah Islamic Affairs Department has launched an anti-smoking campaign for Ramadan that will reward those who quit the habit with Dh10,000 ($US2723).

Contestants can participate by calling the toll free number 8001441, where they will then be asked to take a medical test, be closely watched during the month (how will this happen?) and at the end of the month they will be subject to another medical test to prove that their Ramadan was smoke-free.

Those who pass the test will be entered into the draw with the first prize winner receiving Dh10,000, while the second and third winners will be rewarded with Dh5,000. Others up to the tenth winner will carry home prizes like mobile phones and other electronics.

Judging by the comments, many smokers have stopped drawing on their cigs in order to go into the Dh10,000 draw. They think that with Allah’s help in this month of fasting they will stub out this habit.

Why Only a Month?
Perhaps it would be better to reward quitters after they have butted out for six months but possibly this is a case of smokers needing short term goals?

One calls to mind the Australian cricketer, Shane Warne, who was paid $200,000 to give up cigarettes during a four month sponsorship with a nicotine substitute manufacturer and yet was seen puffing away before the smoke-free period was finished.

Does the Sharjah competition allow the controversial nicotine patch during Ramadan?

Questionable Motivations
There is a sense in which the motivation does not matter if people quit smoking and stop doing harm to their bodies and others in their puffing zone.

Yet, does the rewarding with money cloud the real reasons for giving up the smoking habit?

Recently there was talk of introducing Gucci designer safety belts to make Emiratis buckle up and now this Dh10,000 carrot to stop smoking cigs.

Why not draw the veil over the real reason for wearing safety belts and tell people that they are killing themselves and the lives of their passengers?

Why not take the burqa off the smoking habit and tell people that they are killing themselves and polluting the air of their loved ones?

In this fundamentalist Islamic society it is surprising that so little is made of religious motivation and following the will of Allah in such everyday things as health, smoking, driving and safety. Instead the most effective answer is deemed to be throwing money at people or making them feel cool and fashionable.

Mariam M Al Serkal, Sharjah Offers Dh10,000 Reward to Quit Smoking, Gulf News, 26 August 2009.

Armani, Gucci or Versace for your UAE Seat Belts? ETE, 26 August 2009.

Smoking and Dietary Patches Ease Pain of Ramadan Fast, ETE, 10 September 2008.

First the Swine Flu Sermon, Now a Sermon on Responsible Driving in the Emirates, ETE, 18 June 2009.

On Related Sites
I Know I’m Back in Fujairah UAE at Ramadan When…, Fujairah in Focus, 30 August 2009.

Take a Look at the America’s Cup Venue at RAK, UAE, America’s Cup in the UAE, 31 August 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at) on Facebook and Twitter.

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Image: “The most effective answer is deemed to be throwing money at people.”