The Noose Inside Neck
The Outlook article says that cigarette consumption is 100 billion sticks per year, and more than 5.4 million people are killed worldwide by tobacco. ITC was making 70% of its profit from tobacco. People discussed when they started smoking, how difficult it is to give up the habit and why they gave it up.
I remember it very clearly. It was Dec 4, 1966 when I smoked my first cigarette. The occasion was my class picnic. I had just passed SSC with not too bad marks [that’s my opinion, my parents felt otherwise] and felt that I had then entered the man’s world, having left behind the kid’s world at the school. On that day I smoked half a packet of cigarettes. My parents soon went on their annual vacation leaving behind our servant and me at home which provided a great opportunity to smoke cigars which my father had kept in a cupboard and forgotten about it.
I contracted tuberculosis at a very preliminary stage six years later. The smoking stopped. I was scared of it. Three years later I had taken up a job in a company where everybody smoked, it was the ‘in thing’ I would say. Not to be left behind, I resumed smoking, touched three packets or 30 cigarettes a day, notwithstanding the history of tuberculosis. When I got engaged to Sulabha, my wife, she asked me ‘Do you smoke?’ I said ‘Yes, I do’. I thought she will ask me to stop smoking but she did not except for an occasional plea. She must have considered me incorrigible. I never smoked in front of my father, although I guess he knew that I smoked.
I finally gave up about ten years ago. The reason was not economic as some claim [when the cigarette prices go up], it was also not anything to do with me health, and my health was fine by grace of God. The reason was…… I do not know what label to give. I started thinking for some reason that I am soon going to be afflicted with throat cancer! It made me feel that there was a noose inside my neck!! I do not know why I started feeling this, but the feeling became so strong that I stopped enjoying my cigarette. So my smoking stopped. I did not substitute it with eating peanuts or any other habit; I know some people try it. It started with a bang but went away without my realising it.
Several years passed, my son grew up and joined an engineering college. I once asked him, ‘I hear that many students smoke charas or some such stuff. What would be the percentage of students who have tried it?’ ‘Must be about forty percent, Dad’ was the answer which stunned me. I never knew things had changed so drastically.
I think the situation is very different now, girls seem to be smoking more than boys, certainly in the corporate world, and the craze among boys is for drinking. The substance abuse is more common today than ever and I feel that I am a lucky father whose children did not pick up that habit. I always thought that substance abuse was a recent phenomenon till I visited Muktangan in Pune and learnt how it was started.
I am proud of my children for they did not pick up smoking habit, I am proud of our Government [may they give us more of such occasions] which declared the smoking ban, and I am proud of Muktangan which has done splendid work in the field of deaddiction. I am ever grateful to God for not giving me health problems despite my ailment record.
My father used to be a chain smoker, meaning that you would never see him without a cigarette in his hand. He used to manage a finance company where they allowed smoking inside the building. The walls turned YELLOW from the amount of smoke – yuck.
Dad quit “cold turkey” about 15 years ago. The doctor told him that if he kept it up, he’d only have 5 years left to his life… I’m ever grateful. Now, Dad can’t stand the smell of smoke, which I’m also glad about.
Neither my brother nor I have ever tried a cigarette. We don’t see it as being cool,… it’s disgusting, actually. Rob and I don’t drink either. When we attende college, that was the thing – drinking, but I never acquired the taste for alcohol.
Good for you not to smoke and I’m glad your children don’t either.
Enjoyed your blog!
Thanks for your comments, story and encouragement.
Congratulations for having the strength of mind to give up this terrible habit. I have noticed that education, money,prestige etc has nothing to do with motivating folks to give up smoking. It has to come from within you. Some people are so blinded by the tobacco haze that they even abuse those who advise otherwise. (I once blogged about this and got severely abused Here)
But I think this ban on smoking is very good, we need to be very alert about implementing it. And what you say about boys drinking is true. I just heard yesterday from a doctor who treats college kids . Just wondering how one handles that ?
Bura ko mat maro, burai ko maro!(kill the root cause) So said our greatest leader(I have my own views about who the greatest is). Still, in such situations, any ones quotation is just fine!
Why ban smoking, when cigs freely available? A government which can ban smoking in public places (no trivial task) may as well ban cig production. Wouldn’t it be much easier? For the govt and for me too!?
What is the govt trying to do? Test my will power!
My organisation banned smoking in the premises around 10-12 years back.
I was a chian smoker and used to smoke 30-40 Malbros per day.
Thanks to Va Pu Kale, after reading one of his story I gave up smoking.
He wrote I am not saying smoking is bad, all I am saying is Habit is bad, Quit habbit.
And I quit habbit.
Babu Bhaskaran : Your comment about banning cig production : Why ban killing when knives/guns/other weapons are easily available ?
Where there is a will, power follows. Use it.
harekrishnaji I applaud your effort and congratulate you for banning smoking in your workplace since 10 years.
What seemed to have come into your life seems to have been reduced to a whimper. Like a smoked out cig butt !!
For some reason, i never tried smoking. Not once. I guess i was too scared that the user trial would get me to be a permanent customer !
And in more ways than one, i am glad that the smoking ban has come into place. As much as i am for freedom and individual rights, it indeed is heartening to see friends cut down on cigs because they cant afford to walk a mile to smoke a cig !!
thanks for sharing !
Dear Ugich Konitari, Harekrishnaji, Babu, Aleta and kavi,
Thanks for your comments and encouragement. I liked the thought mentioned by Harekrishnaji that ‘Habit is bad so quit habit’. I will remember this always.
UG: I know that kicking the habit is a good thing for I have experienced it. I again will. But, I would still stick to the point. Guns, Knives, etc. have other uses too. Cigs (not tobacco, it has medicinal uses) kills and other than that there is no utility. So, why not ban production? 🙂
Each year more than 1 million people die from tobacco and Throat Cancer related illnesses. Because of advertisements and other forms of media that build up smoking, bounteous teens think it is hip and cool to smoke. Now more than ever bounteous teens are getting addicted to nicotine and cigarettes. http://www.chantixhome.com/
Thanks Bob for your comment.