This Is How This 51-Year-Old Quit Smoking During Ramadan


Siti Ayeeshah Zaki •  Apr 25, 2022

His love for his family trumping all, Noor Azhar, 51, managed to quit smoking back in 2013 after almost 3 decades. His secret? Determination & Ramadan! Believing that his fast was already half the battle conquered, Azhar promised his family and himself that he would quit smoking. And quit, he did after only 28 days in Ramadan ? An amazing feat of love, determination, and piety, read on to find out how Azhar overcame all odds and quit smoking during Ramadan!P.S. Do you know anyone who’s looking to quit smoking? Ask them to sign-up for the I Quit programme now!Check it out here. 

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How To Quit Smoking During Ramadan: Noor Azhar 

Smoking - How It Started

Azhar started his smoking journey in Secondary 1 due to peer pressure from his schoolmates, but the activity soon became more than just something to do with his friends. As it slowly became a habit, he began to find it harder and harder to quit smoking. Plus, no one in his family knew of his habit until he had enlisted in the army, and by then, he had been smoking for 5 years and it was a part of his lifestyle.

Love & Smoking 

Fast forward to adulthood, Azhar’s wife began to grow concerned about his smoking habit. They were expecting a son in a few months, and Azhar was not only still smoking, but also experiencing health issues.‘’I was experiencing breathing difficulties while playing sports such as soccer and mountain biking. My wife was also concerned about how smoking would have a negative impact on my son's upbringing in the future,’’ Noor Azhar told HHWT.In an attempt to be a good father and role model, Azhar decided to quit in 2011. However, his first victory was short-lived. He had only managed to quit for 9 months. Picking up the habit again due to work stress, Azhar soon felt that he had disappointed his wife, son, and himself, and promised to try quitting again soon. 
Keeping true to his promise, Azhar managed to quit 2 years later! Chancing upon a roadshow by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) after one of his Friday Prayers just before Ramadan, Azhar decided to enrol himself in the I Quit programme by HPB. However, he made the surprising decision not to tell anyone about his efforts to quit within the next month!‘’I did not want to tell my wife at first so as not to disappoint her again. I wanted to be sure that I was totally free from cravings to smoke before telling her that I had quit for good.’’Since attempts to use the Nicotine Replacement Therapy method had failed for him previously, Azhar decided to go Cold Turkey this time round. ‘’Nicotine patches didn’t work for me. Instead, I made the bold decision to quit smoking via the Cold Turkey method. My last stick of cigarette was one day before Ramadan 2013.’’Azhar also made use of the brochures and tips provided by the HPB I Quit Programme. This included staying away from any friends who smoked during the period of Ramadan so as not to tempt himself!P.S. If you’re interested in finding out how the I Quit Programme can help you in your journey to quitting, check it out here!  

Quitting During Ramadan 

‘’I saw Ramadan as a good time to quit, as we are fasting almost 14 hours each day. This is already half the battle won! The other half, for me, came from my willpower and my personal determination to succeed.’’

Placing his family and success at the forefront of his mind, Azhar would manage his cravings and withdrawal symptoms during Ramadan by spending time with his family or just drinking a cup of warm water or his favourite drink.‘’For the first two weeks, I coughed badly and had a lot of phlegm. But I overcame it by drinking more warm water during sahur and iftar.’’And since he had already stopped smoking for almost 14 hours while fasting, he found it much easier to not pick up a cigarette after breaking his fast!

The Big News

28 days after Ramadhan, Azhar received an unexpected call from HPB for a saliva test in accordance with the I Quit Programme. Excited to prove that he had finally kicked the habit, Azhar rushed down. ‘’I was so excited that I went down to their office just 2 hours after they called. Even though I was still wearing my company uniform!’’ The results? He was smoke-free! ‘’I told them - I hadn’t puffed a single cigarette after I made the decision to quit indefinitely 1 day after Ramadan. They congratulated me and gave me $100 worth of NTUC Vouchers... Which I spent on family groceries!’’
Finally, after 3 months of being smoke-free, Azhar told his family of his success. ‘’They were completely surprised and happy for me!’’Azhar also began to smell, taste, and breathe better, which made eating, walking and sports much more enjoyable. ‘’I began to smell the aromas of all the food that I ate. My breathing improved, too. Especially while playing soccer or mountain biking. No more panting going up slopes or breathlessness during soccer matches!’’

Today: Smoke-Free & Happy

Looking back, Azhar mentions that his main motivation to quit was his ‘’beloved family’’, and credits much of his success to their love and support. When asked how loved ones could support those on their quitting journey, he tells us, ‘’Talk to those who intend to quit and ask them what kind of moral or emotional support they need, and how you can be a part of their quitting journey. Then follow through.’’P.S. Did you know you can now nominate your loved one as a supporter when you sign up for the I Quit programme? Check it out here!
Now, Azhar uses the money he once spent on cigarettes on sports, travel, and of course, his family! ‘’Since I quit, I've travelled to many places like East Europe, USA, Denmark and Sweden, Saudi Arabia for my Umrah with my family and more, all using the money that I saved from buying cigarettes. Hobbies have become much more fun too! Now, I spend my money on mountain bikes, paintball, swimming, hiking and soccer, my all-time favourite.’’When asked how others could quit smoking too, he tells us, ‘’Smoking is a choice, not something you’re fated to do. You’re not destined to be a lifelong smoker. Let’s use the time we have wisely and productively. Smoking only burns our lungs and jeopardises our loved ones’ health (because of secondhand smoke).’’So if you’re planning on quitting smoking or know someone who would love to quit smoking - this is your sign. The journey, while a little of a struggle, is one that is worthwhile and fulfilling! And if you’re not sure where to start, check out the Health Promotion Board’s I Quit Program or the Korang OK? Facebook page? Staying smoke-free for just 28 days often means you’re 5 times more likely to quit for good, so this is definitely the best place to start your journey. You’ll also be rewarded with up to $100 in HPB eVouchers after becoming smoke-free! ‘’If I can do it, so can you!’’ - Noor Azhar, 51. This article is brought to you by the Health Promotion Board.