There is something very wrong when you see photos like this
Over the years, I remember telling a number of people off for holding infants in one arm while they held a cigarette in the other hand. Did they know much harm they were causing to those sensitive tender lungs, I asked them? Then there are those who smoke indoors without any concern for the health of other people in the room.
I am allergic to cigarette smoke – my throat swells and within a few hours of exposure to smoke, I start wheezing and at times actually stop breathing. Although some smokers respect my wishes and go outside to smoke, others just laugh and say they will blow the smoke in another direction. Is this because these people are inconsiderate, or is it simply that they do not understand (or do not want to understand) how much harm they are causing?
But this is not about me. It is about all of us and what we are doing to stop tobacco from ruining the health of people young and old across the world. Authorities here have followed regulations and put up No Smoking signs at airports. Restaurants have also segregated smokers from non-smokers to some extent although there are many who haven’t because it will hurt business. Yet, wherever there are signs, implementation is weak. I cannot count the number of times I have seen people waiting for their baggage at airports, standing below a No Smoking sign, lighting up. Airport authorities do not tell them to refrain. I am quite well known for going over to such people and pointing out the No Smoking sign to them. Sometimes they are embarrassed enough to put the cigarette out but very often they just shrug and carry on.
Some smokers I know are very nice people. Yet this habit (yes that is what it is!) makes them behave against their otherwise better nature. So what is it about tobacco addiction that makes people inconsiderate? Or is it that they have just closed their minds to the harm they are causing themselves and their families and friends?
The growing number of young people who are taking to smoking because they think it is glamorous, is alarming. Some girls/women smoke because they think it is a sign that they are liberated. I don’t want to offend anyone but as far as I am concerned, it is a sign of sheer stupidity. If smokers could see what smoking does to their lungs and what passive smoking does to others, I am sure there are many of them who would put out their cigarettes today. So how do we convince them? How do we change the habits of these people one person at a time?
And no, this is not just about Pakistan. Recently I was in a Food Court in KL where people were sitting below a No Smoking sign and smoking – similar experiences in Hong Kong, India, Nepal and Bangladesh. When will we get past this? How do we start educating people so that they won’t have to be fined or told that they should put out a cigarette in public places?
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