Smokers celebrating Ramadan are being encouraged to get support and advice to quit smoking for the holy month which begins today (Tuesday 15th May).

Ramadan is an annual event in the Islamic calendar and it is most well-known as the time when Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and smoking from sunrise to sunset.

Known as fasting, it is forbidden for anything to reach the stomach during daylight hours. This inspires self-restraint and time to reflect, bringing worshippers closer to their God, Allah.

Quitting smoking is the best thing anyone can do for their health with 1 in 2 long-term smokers dying from a smoking-related illness. In Wales, 19% of the population currently smoke.

Help Me Quit is Wales’ free NHS service offering one-to-one advice on the phone and in person or group support to anyone wanting to kick the habit. Help Me Quit can also recommend which nicotine replacements, such as patches or gum, are most suitable and they can direct would-be quitters to get help from their GP or local pharmacy for free.

Thousands of people quit for good with the help of NHS services every year and studies show that smokers are up to four times more likely to quit successfully if they use a combination of stop smoking medication and specialist support, such as with Help Me Quit.

Chief Executive of tobacco control charity ASH Wales, Suzanne Cass, said: “Ramadan is a fantastic opportunity for Muslims who are looking to stop smoking to finally make that hard step.

“Any amount of time smokefree gives the body - especially the lungs and bloodstream - the time to breathe again and take in the clean air needed to recover.

“Here in Wales we have a flexible and welcoming stop smoking support service, Help Me Quit, who are just a click or a phone call away. Quitters can also pop into their local pharmacy or chat to their GP to find the best way of quitting for their circumstances.” To get free, local, and tailored advice visit www.helpmequit.wales, text ‘HMQ’ to 80818 or phone 08000 852 219.