Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Case Notes Shamsia Begum Smoking Cessation Adviser, Bangladeshi Tobacco Cessation Project in Tower Hamlets

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Case Notes Shamsia Begum Smoking Cessation Adviser, Bangladeshi Tobacco Cessation Project in Tower Hamlets

Article excerpt

Byline: TINA BEXSON

What it takes

Spoken Bengali or Sylheti and experience of working with the Bangladeshi community are compulsory, says Shamsia. "And enthusiasm, patience, humour, approachability, and sensitivity to any personal issues that clients bring up are all a must."

FOR Bangladeshi men smoking is viewed as a form of social bonding, as a normal part of being a man. Is it any surprise that 60 per cent of them smoke and that giving up can be quite torturous?

Shamsia Begum, 25, is particularly familiar with these difficulties and advises her clients both in their language (Bengali or Sylheti) and on their level. "I grew up in the area with members of my family chewing paan (a mixture made with tobacco and betel leaves) and smoking", she says, "so people can relate to me." The Bangladeshi project is a culturally sensitive joint innovative project between Queen Mary University of London and the voluntary organisation, Social Action for Health. Advisers run groups as well as visiting doctors' surgeries, health centres and other community centres, where they recruit people, offer on-thespot-advice and arrange home visits for some female clients and elderly men. The treatment consists of nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches and gums, for up to four weeks.

Although the service is gender specific, some of Shamsia's time is spent advising men, but she mainly runs a group for Bangladeshi women who chew paan. Fifty per cent of Bangladeshi women chew and only a small minority smoke since smoking in South Asian women is regarded as a taboo and disrespectful. …

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