Smoke among younger people
Posted by suhardi on 22 March 2008
By: Mohd Suhaidi Sautar.
Smoking is detrimental to our health. This has been proven beyond doubt through medical research carried out over the last 50 years. Various legislations have been introduced to curb the presence and advertising right of tobacco companies.
Yet the numbers of smokers are on the rise. Have we missed something here? Here the hard truth, which is nothing to make light of. Half the people in the world who smoke regularly today about million of people will eventually be killed by tobacco. Even more startling is that hundreds of thousands of people who have never smoked die each year from diseases caused by second-hand smoke. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world.
. WHO states that neither ventilation nor filtration, alone or in combination, can reduce exposure levels of tobacco smoke indoors to “acceptable” levels even in terms of dour, much less health effects. Monday is World No Tobacco Day. Malaysia has been observing this event since it was initiated by the World Health Organization in the mid 1990s.
In Malaysia, there are currently an estimated five million smokers (about half a million of whom are women), and the number is projected to increase. To curb smoking in the country, the Government launched a nationwide anti-smoking campaign. Yet, the “Tak Nak!” campaign, launched in February year 2004 by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, is the first health campaign that is solely anti-tobacco. Previously, all anti-smoking drives were merely a component of the “Healthy Lifestyle” campaign, which kicked off in 1990. Tak Nak campaign is a five-year campaign that targets the younger generation.
The main objective of the programme is to train health professionals, starting with pharmacists, to help smokers quit by using behavioral and pharmacological approaches. Children exposed to second-hand smoke have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems and severe asthma. In adults, passive smoking causes immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and is a cause of coronary heart disease and lung cancer.
Mohd Hasrul, 25, used to reach for a pack of cigarettes even before he opened his eyes in the morning. Having smoked since he was 14, it was also the last thing he did before going to bed.
“A cigarette was like a very close friend and something I must take along before leaving the house, like mobile phone, keys and wallet,” said Hasrul.
On average the 25-year-old puffed 20 to 25 sticks a day. At times it could go up to 50.
“I really enjoyed smoking. It’s a very social activity, and highly addictive. I would smoke when with friends, alone or while playing games,” said Hasrul, who picked up the habit from his friends.
In fact, one of his ambitions while growing up was to work with a tobacco company which he did for more than two years. Hasrul also used to say that the day he stopped smoking would be the day the doctor told him he had lung cancer. “He did try to quit as part of my New Year resolutions, but only for two hours!” he added.
Hasrul firmly believes that quitting is a personal decision that involves will power. “Honestly, I believe that you cannot stop unless you really want to. No government, friends or family members can tell you to.”
Not surprisingly, he does not believe that gruesome pictures used in anti-smoking campaigns are effective in curbing smoking. “They are only sick to look at and I don’t think smokers will be affected. Or maybe I’m just hardcore.”
Friends find him inspiring for quitting at a snap after puffing 22 years. “I’ve told them not to use me as inspiration, but to quit because they personally want to,” he emphasized.
In the last two years, Hasrul has put on a few kilos and admits that he still has the urge to smoke. “I think about it every day. I absolutely miss it and it gets harder to resist. I have dreams in which I’m smoking and then I wake up in a cold sweat, thinking I’ve broken my resolution!
“But if I ever start again, I don’t think I will be able to stop. That fear keeps me off it,” Hasrul said. “I think every time you restart, it gets harder to stop.”
Now, even when he’s among smokers, he can resist the urge to light up. “I just breathe deeper when I’m with them! That’s the only way I get my share of nicotine now,” he added, jokingly.
Many people make New Year resolutions only to abandon them in no time. One exception is Hazuan Abd. Wahab, 22,(not his real name), who decided to quit smoking early last year.
Hazuan, who in his early 20s, lit his first cigarette about 9 years ago. “Initially it was just for the fun of it because my friends were smokers. Later, I found it had a soothing effect when I was under stress. Every smoker will swear to this,” said Hazuan, as a student for Faculty Quranic and Sunnah.
Soon, he averaged a pack of 20s a day; at one point, he was doing almost two packs.
“I tended to chain smoke when under tremendous stress.”
Over the years, he tried to kick the habit a few times, but would relapse after one or two years.
Then, a week before Jan 1, 2007, he decided to quit for real.
“There was no special formula to quitting. I just needed the will to stay away and resist offers from friends.”
Hazuan feels that printing grisly pictures on of cigarette packs is not very effective in deterring smokers.
“Graphic pictures at road safety exhibitions do little to stop people from being killed on the road. You can print pictures on cigarette packs but smokers may choose not to see or think. In time, it becomes a blind spot,” he said.
For Hazuan, the most difficult part about quitting is when he goes drink. “When you drink, the joy is halved if you don’t smoke. The two sins must go together.
“But I certainly want this to be my final cycle of quitting and starting again. Also, it’s getting very expensive to smoke.”
So what would he say to those who are trying to quit?
“If you have a health problem, it’s in your best interest, and that of your loved ones, to stop. Then you must really, really stop. Relapse is fine as long as ultimately you quit forever,” Hazuan said.
For Mohd Husni Mat Yatim, 22, he smokes to look cool. He want have an attention from his friends. “I started smoking to look cool”. The Tak Nak campaign had an adverse affect. The Government should introduce a bigger price hike on cigarettes, shutdown the cigarettes factories and explore an alternative commodities to replace our current tobacco plantation. Advertisement for an anti-smoking should angle towards ‘smoking is not cool, it destroy your mind, health, and finances’.
For Abd. Mutalib, the filling to try get him smoke.” I started smoking in school because it was the felling thing to do.” The Tak Nak campaign had no effect on me whatsoever. On the other hand, cigarette boxes with gory picture on it freak me out completely. It may seem cheesy, but ‘scare’ campaigns really do work. Maybe the Government should try this approach,” he added.
According to Dr Rosni Samah, 43, he said, people who have smoke is person doesn’t have true pure, especially student. They easily influence with their friends.
“Student now day are so passive. As Dean for FPBU, we have planned to reduce this. We used advice to our staff, lectures and our student about dangers of smoking,” he added.
Young people tend to be drawn to smoking and chewing tobacco for any number of reasons, to look cool, act older, lose weight, win cool merchandise, seem tough, or feel independent.
“My husband is smoker before this, but after have children, he have change to stop smoking. He think can give effect for our children, so he will stop to be a smoker,” said Madam Mazla Ahmad Mahir. For Suhana Baharuddin, 28, smoking doesn’t have any advantages. “People whose smoking can get bad affect, if not now, maybe at them old one day,” she added.
Usually, people don’t like smoking or chewing tobacco at first. Your body is smart, and it knows when it’s being poisoned. When people try smoking for the first time, they often cough a lot and feel pain or burning in their throat and lungs. This is your lungs’ way of trying to protect you and tell you to keep them smoke free. Also, many people say that they feel sick to their stomachs or even throw up. If someone accidentally swallows chewing tobacco, they may be sick for hours.
The problems that might affect young people more quickly:
Yellow teeth Smelly clothes
More colds and coughs
Difficulty keeping up with friends when playing sports
Empty wallet, cigarettes and tobacco products are very expensive!
Help at hand.
Make the commitment to quit. Set a quit date, preferably as soon as possible.
Equip yourself with skills to cope with withdrawals
Stay away from things that trigger smoking (alcohol, coffee or other activities)
Eat healthy, drink lots of water, eat more fruits and vegetables and reduce fat intake to prevent weight gain.
Engage in a hobby or activity to keep your mind occupied
Get assistance from health professionals
Get support from friends and family
Back at the home the much talked about “Tak Nak!” campaign has come to a miserable end. RM10 million has already been spent on billboard, press, and television advertising, targeted to create more awareness. So, do we need another campaign about smoking? Think about it…