That’s truly a matter of perception verses reality. The difference between coolness and health hazards, reducing anxiety and addictiveness must be understood. Once I had a talk with an elderly man who was smoking a cigarette whose face and hands were yellowish. I asked him why is he doing this? What are its benefits.
He told me it works for him as it releases his tension and gives him a relaxing mood. When I told him that it is harming his body, starting from his oral cavity to the respiratory system and Cardio vascular system it is damaging his body. He replied me I am not harming people. It’s my body whatever I am doing with it, I am responsi
ble , not you. I asked him with more humbleness and respect, “You are not just harming yourself, Your family will suffer a lot for your health problems. The people around you are on greater risk of developing health conditions.
Every year 38% of kids in USA exposed to Second hand smoke develop health conditions, up to 2,000,000 ear infections each year, nearly 530,000 visit for asthma , up to 436,000 episodes of bronchitis in children under five are reported and up to 190,000 cases of pneumonia in children under five are marked.
I remember his words ‘you are stupid’.
I thought of the Stockholm syndrome. It was named by Nils Bejerot who was a Swedish criminologist and psychiatrist, during case study of victims’ reactions as hostages in 1973 bank robbery. Hostage in this disease develop the positive feelings towards their captor as a survival strategy.
I am afraid tobacco addicts are having Stockholm syndrome. That is the only reason not to realize the hazards of this killer. They don’t want to come out of their organized chaos.
According to a research in Pakistan there are 25000000 smokers out of them 31% are males and 5.8% are females and every year 108000 people die. Everyday 1200 people start smoking in Pakistan so the motive behind my Tobacco Free Pakistan campaign is to reduce the initiation of tobacco use at all age groups and increase successful cessation attempts by tobacco users and to aware people about second and third hand smoke to reduce the proportion of non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke. I use to talk to people around me and when I get the people giving logical reasonings regarding their smoking I always wonder. I feel every person must be aware of this very bad habit and similarly the other reasons harming us, our society , our country and finally the planet earth. Iqbal said in his couplet
افراد کے ہاتھوں میں ہے اقوام کی تقدیر
ہر شخص ہے ملت کے مقدر کا ستارہ
Afrad Ke Hathon Mein Hai Aqwam Ki Taqdeer
Har Fard Hai Millat Ke Muqaddar Ka Sitara
Fortunes of States through individual prowess ripen
Each man one star of their ascendant (Destiny)
The sincerity and self reliance of every person of a nation is needed to make it strong. Every person has a burden of responsibility on his shoulder in making the society, its not work of governments only. I feel this responsibility as 7 years old Muslim. I wanted to contribute positive to my society so I lit the candle of my part and started delivering Anti Tobacco awareness Lectures.
One more Common misunderstanding of tobacco substitute products like Smokeless Tobacco (Naswar 3etc) or flavored products are thought to be less harmful.
Some people use hookahs ,vape and e-cigarettes to be at safer side but its just great misunderstanding. They are equally or more harm full than cigarettes. Tobacco is in any form is harmful, means No tobacco is Safe. Tobacco on one hand is killing humans and other hand is cause of logging the trees which are lungs of the earth.
Deforestation is also related to manufacturing of cigarettes as 2-4% deforestation in world is due to tobacco farming. Tobacco plant is grown on the land which is first cleared by cutting the trees and once the tobacco plant is harvested, it is cured by air drying or mostly by burning wood. It is estimated that annually 600 million trees are being cut for making room to tobacco plants and cigarette making machines use four miles of paper for one hour packing of cigarettes. In developing countries, for each 300 cigarettes one tree is burnt, 1 acre of woodland is burnt and Pakistan alone uses 1.5 million cubic meters of wood for tobacco curing. Mostly cigarette are lit by match box or gas filled lighter. If one wooden match is used to lit 2 cigarettes then 6 trillion cigarettes which are globally smoked per year, would require deforestation of 9 million trees to make 3 trillion wooden matches.
The inspiration behind my Anti- smoking campaign awareness is the pain and the alarming research of US centre for disease control that “Tobacco kills more Americans each year than alcohol, cocaine , crack, heroine, homicide, suicide, car accidents, fires and AIDs combined”. According to another research Tobacco use kills 480,000 people in the United States each year and nearly 6 million people worldwide. Many of these people started smoking as children. So my first target is schools because according to Surgeon General Regina Benjamin
“If young people don’t start using tobacco by age 26, they almost certainly will never start.” Everyday 1200 people start smoking in Pakistan and fastly travelling to the destruction. We have to reach to them. They are not so far. They are among us, near to us, in our neighbours, in our social circle, at our office and work place in ou
r university and school. Based on current rates, more than 1 million current college students are projected to die prematurely from tobacco use. I aim to save them.
According to another hopeful research out of three 2 smokers want to get rid of it. They need little encouragement and direction to increase their will power and determination. I aim to reach maximum schools and universities in my city. Than I will extend my campaign to National level.
Feeling the pain of the suffering people and to address this problem, I have started a series of lectures in public and universities to sensitize people, especially youth about the harmful impact of smoking. I embarked on this journey in the year 2015 and successfully sensitized smokers who pledged to get rid of this habit. So far I have arranged following sensitization programs.