The Co-operative urges fasting Muslims to quit smoking during Ramadan

August 02, 2010

The Co-operative Pharmacy is extending its award winning Ramadan campaign  to encompass stop smoking advice to Muslim patients during Ramadan.

A total of 82 Co-operative Pharmacies located in areas with a high proportion of Muslim customers, have been specially trained to offer a free tailored “medicines check” service which now incorporates stop smoking advice.

Although Muslims who are ill can be exempt from fasting, many continue to observe the fast. This can mean that oral medicines are not taken at the correct time intervals, or that their effectiveness is altered due to drugs’ interactions with food.

The pharmacist will ensure that if the patient needs to change the times they take their medicines they continue to manage their condition effectively and safely and will also identify those who are looking to stop smoking. 

This is the ideal time of year to consider stopping smoking as Muslims will already be abstaining during daylight hours to fulfil their religious obligation of fasting.  Patients who smoke may be dependent on nicotine and will experience withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, anger, or restlessness during the fast.  The Co-operative Pharmacy has trained the pharmacists to share ways to help the patient beat the addiction and change existing habits. 

The Muslim Council of Great Britain supports the initiative, commenting, “We welcome the effort by The Co-operative Pharmacy and will recommend it to our communities living locally. We urge all fellow Muslim brothers and sisters not to make their own decisions to alter doses or timings of medications without the guidance from their doctors or pharmacists and ask local health practitioners to liaise with mosques and Islamic centres to educate the public on this important information.”

Mandeep Mudhar, The Co-operative Pharmacy’s Head of NHS Development, explains more, “Last year we were able to help a significant number of Muslim people intending to fast during Ramadan and we are delighted to extend the service to incorporate stop smoking support, thanks to a grant from McNeil Product Ltd  .  We are urging Muslim patients who take regular prescribed medication as well as those who wish to stop smoking, to speak to their pharmacist.”

“We appreciate the importance of cultural understanding and sensitivity when discussing the implications on healthcare of people’s religious beliefs.  We’re not making assumptions about how Muslim patients might act, but we strongly recommend they talk to their pharmacist,” concludes Mandeep.

Kawaldip Sehmi, Director of Healthy Inequalities, QUIT  comments, “Smoking is a serious health issue for Asian communities who are at risk from heart disease and respiratory symptoms associated with smoking.  The month of Ramadan is an excellent opportunity for patients who have chosen to fast to make the decision to stop smoking completely. 

“Research shows that people who are most successful at quitting long term are those who have abstained for a four week period, i.e. the length of Ramadan and who have the support of their friends and family as well as the community pharmacist,” concludes Mr Sehmi.

The Ramadan initiative underlines The Co-operative Pharmacy’s commitment to supporting local communities as part of its new Ethical Strategy. The Strategy also pledges to help tackle global poverty and re-enforces the business’s commitment to responsible retailing and combating climate change.

Additional information:

  1. The Ramadan initiative won best Clinical Service at the 2009 C&D Awards
  2. Ramadan runs from 11th August until the 10th September.
  3. Global healthcare company offering the world’s broadest range of health care products
  4. QUIT is an independent charity whose aim is to save lives by helping smokers to stop