With Muslim smokers refraining from smoking during daylight hours this month, a number of health experts and officials say that Ramadan is the perfect opportunity to give up smoking.

According to Dr. Abdullah Al-Baddah, director of the Tobacco Control Department at the Ministry of Health, Saudi Arabia ranks 23 worldwide in terms of smokers in population per capita. Each year Saudi Arabia consume as many as 15 billion cigarettes and inhale 40,000 tons of tobacco smoke.

"The Tobacco Control Department urges smokers around the Kingdom to utilise the chance Ramadan offers to give up smoking," Al-Baddah said. He added that the Ministry of Health is currently running a number of television and outdoor media adverts in Saudi Arabia and other GCC states emphasising the need to utilise Ramadan for promoting a healthy lifestyle.

The health official also commented that the feedback received from the community has been overwhelming with a number of people getting to celebrate two Eids this year, the Eid Al-Fitr and the Eid of freedom from smoking.

Islamic groups around the world are encouraging Muslims to take advantage of the holy month to quit smoking. "One of the important benefits of the Ramadan fast is the sense of discipline that it instills in an individual," said Tahra Goraya of the Washington-based Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

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