YOZGAT – Although smoking is forbidden in Islam, millions of Muslims are unfortunately addicted to tobacco. But things are now different in Haydarbeyli, a village in Anatolia, Turkey, where none of its 180 residents smoke, and the handful that used to, have quit, Daily Sabah reported on December 3.
One of the residents, Muhsin Varol, said he smoked for more than 13 years before deciding to quit the habit. “I quit smoking, just like all the residents here. We also organize group walks day and night to keep healthy.”
The head of the village, Rifat Eraslan, said “every resident of the village supported each other to get rid of this harmful habit. The Turkish presidency supports our anti-smoking campaign too.”
Yasin Uğurlu, another resident, decided to quit smoking after having this habit for four years. “Everybody knows very well about the harms smoking can cause but most people choose to ignore it.”
“At Haydarbeyli, however, we choose not to smoke. Right now, everybody is happy. Our houses, cars and streets don’t smell of cigarettes. We don’t want anyone who comes here from other places to smoke in our village. When we have visitors, the smokers don’t smoke because they feel ashamed. You can’t find a single cigarette butt in our village,” Uğurlu added.
In an official recognition and appreciation for these local efforts, the provincial president of Yeşilay, Halil İbrahim Coşkun, visited the village. “It’s fantastic that Haydarbeyli heard our call. I personally want to thank them for their decision. I hope many other people will follow the example they have set and we will get rid of the habit of smoking altogether,” the official said.
Smoking in the Muslim World
According to Daily Sabah, there are 3.3 billion estimated smokers worldwide and every year almost five million people lose their lives due to smoking-related diseases.
A smoker is at a high risk of catching upper respiratory tract diseases, chronic pharyngitis, laryngitis, recurrent infections, vocal cord disorder in females, windpipe cancers, recurrent bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema, lung and other types of cancers.
Smokers are 13 to 22 times more likely to suffer from lung cancer compared to non-smokers. Their risk of getting gingival cancer is 5 to 14 times higher, while tongue cancer is 4 to 33 times, and throat cancer is 7 to 16 times higher.
According to a 2006 article published by the British Medical Journal, smoking rates are generally high in Muslim countries.
The highest recorded rates among men were found to be in Yemen (77%) and in Indonesia (69%). Yemen also had the highest prevalence of smoking among women, where almost one third were found to smoke.
The study reported that other Muslim countries with high smoking rates were Tunisia (62% of men), Guinea (59% of men) and Turkey (51% of men).