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Smoking habits in Hajj: A cross-sectional study on 464 pilgrims in Makkah, 2017 (1438 H)


Smoking is a direct cause of many avoidable human deaths in the world. Tobacco use can lead to a long list of serious health problems. According to WHO, the worldwide Prevalence of smoking in 2010 was about 37% (males) and 7.3% (females). WHO targets 33.2% (males) and 4.7% (females) in 2025. On the other hand, Quitting smoking is a challenging process. Many factors can influence the success or failure of quit attempts including, physiological, behavioral, and psychological. During Hajj, pilgrims come from more than 160 countries. Therefore, it is a unique opportunity to determine the prevalence of smoking among pilgrims and to assess their willingness to quit in Hajj.


Quantitative descriptive observational Cross-Sectional. Respondents were targeted using non-probability sampling technique. Quota sampling included six strata according to 6 top nationalities. Pilgrims completed a self-administered questionnaire that included items regarding demographics, smoking status, and physiological, behavioral and psychological factors.


Of 464 participants, the prevalence of current smokers was 18%. Males 28% (80/286) females 1.7 %( 3/178) were a smoker. 7% were ex-smokers, 9.8 %( 28/286) were males, and 1.7% (3/178) were female. Among smokers, 33.7% reported a willingness to quit, 9.6% indicated that they smoked at Hajj at their average rate. The most frequent method used to quit smoking, for those who tried, was cold turkey 74.6% while 14% sought medical consultation. The most important reasons to quit smoking were health protection at 56% and family health at 27%.


Smoking prevalence in Hajj was about half that of the world. The majority of smokers showed future concerns about smoking regarding their health and their families'. Also, one-third of the pilgrims who smoked showed a willingness to quit while two-thirds showed potential. Therefore hajj is a proper season to start cessation programs that include anti-smoking activities, health education, and enforcement of laws prohibiting smoking and even further studies to determine progress in home countries.