The Ministry of Health has launched a campaign among pilgrims to make Mecca and Medina completely tobacco-free during this year’s haj season, the Saudi Arabian English daily Arab News reported Tuesday.
“Under the ministry’s Tobacco Control Programme (TCP), we have printed around 1.5 million leaflets in different languages for distribution among pilgrims – both smokers and non-smokers,” the newspaper quoted Majed Al-Munif, TCP’s supervisor-general, as saying.
He said that the brochures were available in Arabic, English, French, Persian, Urdu, Turkish, Indonesian and Swahili.
“We require the cooperation of pilgrims to make the two holy cities among those with the lowest tobacco consumption in the world,” he said, adding that the area within 5km of the Holy Haram in Mecca and Medina was tobacco-free with the sale of tobacco strictly banned.
Billboards and posters with anti-smoking messages, information regarding anti-smoking clinics and fatwa on the subject are on display in the two cities. Buses carrying pilgrims also have anti-smoking posters on them.
The posters have also been posted all over Mina. Folders containing pamphlets, flyers, postcards and stickers will be handed to pilgrims at the Jamarat during the haj.
Munif said the material would be available in six languages to ensure their widespread dissemination among pilgrims from all linguistic backgrounds.
He added that the haj is an ideal opportunity for smokers to quit.
“We’ve coined a slogan for this Haj — ‘Make Arafat Day A Quit Smoking Day.’ The slogan will serve as a pledge…that will enable pilgrims to quit smoking,” he said.
In 2002, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah, declared the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina tobacco-free. Since then, massive efforts have been exerted by the TCP and the Ministry of Health in stamping out the habit.
Over two million people visit the two cities during the haj each year.
– BERNAMA, November 03, 2009