Ramadan is considered to be the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar. During the month of Ramadan Muslims abstain from food, drink and for those who smoke, cigarettes, during daylight hours (from dawn until sunset). Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. Ramadan is a time of discipline, charity and self-control.
Ramadan is an opportunity not just to help and support smokers to enjoy a tobacco-free Ramadan but also to encourage them to think about giving up tobacco completely. Since 2005, The Oxfordshire Smoking Advice Service has been running a ‘Smokefree Ramadan Campaign’ in partnership with Muslim Health Network – all Oxfordshire mosques are invited to join the campaign. Participating mosques receive free prayer timetables and information leaflets containing information about smoking and chewing tobacco and details of the local NHS stop smoking service.
Mosques are then offered a Friday visit from The Oxfordshire Smoking Advice Service during Ramadan. Although Muslims pray daily, Friday is a special prayer day so many people attend mosque on a Friday. Visiting a mosque enables face-to-face discussions around tobacco use and increases awareness of the support and treatment available to quit. Visits also make it possible to dispel some of the misconceptions and myths around smokeless tobacco and Shisha smoking.
This year’s campaign was a great success, with 6 mosques signing up to ‘Smokefree Ramadan’.