Quit smoking during Ramadan

The month of Ramadan is a great opportunity to start some healthy new habits, and get rid of some bad ones, such as smoking.

'If I could give up smoking during the day there was no reason why I couldn’t stop altogether.'

Ahmed Rahman

Ahmed Rahman gave up smoking during Ramadan with the help of a smoking counsellor at his mosque in north London.

The 36-year-old traffic warden had smoked between 10 and 15 cigarettes a day for 20 years.

“Sometimes I managed to stop for a whole month but every time I saw someone with a cigarette in their hand it made me want one,” he says. “Eventually the temptation would get too much and I’d light up again.”

His wife had become concerned about his health and showed him articles in the newspaper about lung cancer and chest infections.

“We have two children and she didn’t want them exposed to smoke so I had to smoke in the garden,” Ahmed says.

Fighting the cravings

In 2005, Ahmed told a family friend that he wanted to give up smoking during Ramadan.

“We cannot smoke during the day during the time of fasting, so I thought that if I could give up smoking during the day there was no reason why I couldn’t eventually stop altogether,” he says.

His friend advised him to contact his local primary care trust (PCT), which was running an anti-smoking group offering support to people trying to give up.

There were four to five group sessions a week at Ahmed’s mosque. Those who signed up had to commit to five weeks.

In between sessions, Ahmed would phone his support worker whenever he had the urge to light up.

“I liked quitting with a group of other people in the same situation, and being able to talk to someone who knew what I was going through was great,” he says. “Our co-ordinator made various suggestions for getting through the first few days after my ‘quit date’."

NHS Stop Smoking helpline

Call 0300 123 1044 to speak to a trained, expert adviser.

You can also speak to advisers in languages other than English:

Urdu 0800 169 0 881
Punjabi 0800 169 0 882
Hindi 0800 169 0 883
Gujarati 0800 169 0 884
Bengali 0800 169 0 885

'It gets easier'

"The first few weeks were hard. Not eating or drinking anything during the day is difficult, but for me not smoking was harder.”

At night, Ahmed chewed nicotine gum whenever he felt like smoking a cigarette.

“Stopping smoking isn’t something you can feel half-hearted about,” he says. “There were a few weak moments at first when I told myself that a couple of cigarettes wouldn’t hurt, but I knew that if I gave in and had one, I’d be smoking 15 a day again by the end of the week."

If he had a craving during the day, he sat in a cafe and read a paper until the urge had passed. 

"I think the main reason that I finally managed to stop this time was that I really wanted to," Ahmed says. “It does get easier as time goes on. After four weeks I was able to stop using the nicotine gum and I’m proud to say that I have not smoked since Ramadan two years ago.

"Today, I can do physical exercise without getting breathless and my head feels clearer. My wife is really proud of me and it’s nice to know that I don’t have to go outside and stand in the cold or rain just for a smoke.”

Page last reviewed: 21/07/2012

Next review due: 21/07/2014

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Healthy Ramadan

The holy month of Ramadan is a great opportunity to give your body a health check. Find out how.

Stop smoking

Help with quitting, including what your GP can do, local services and nicotine replacement therapies