Sit in a closed room, close your eyes and imagine this: Salman Khan pulling a pack of Marlboro cigarettes out of his pocket and smoking a few of them before going all guns blazing against the bad guys. After that, think of Ranbir Kapoor smoking a cigarette while reliving the fond memories he spent with his beloved.
Now, think of a man sitting in a dark room. He is too weak to move. Imagine him smoking a pipe and coughing continuously. After that, imagine him lying still on his death-bed, vomiting blood. He’s dying a slow and painful death because of lung cancer. Does that sound ‘cool’?
Every day after having lunch, I have this habit of taking a stroll right outside the office area. It happens to be a great way of keeping yourself up and running. The moment I step outside the office, at least 10-15 people can be seen gossiping and smoking cigarettes with filters lying scattered all over the place.
There’s a young lady I used to work with. Back in 2016, she was in her late 20’s. I must confess I haven’t seen a writer as good as her. One fine day, while attending a client call, I saw her carrying a lighter. She held it firmly in her right hand and was on her way to the smoking zone (just outside the office). The very sight of her making her way to the smoking zone made my heart sink in an ocean of gloom. That’s because I had a crush on her. XD
I followed her while she was making her way to the smoking area. She had one cigarette, which she was sharing with one of her female colleagues. She took a few puffs and passed it to her colleague. I stood there motionless as I saw them smoking and giggling.
I wish I could barge into the smoking area and snatch that cigarette from her. I wanted to tell her that smoke wasn’t the only thing that was being blown away by her. Quite frankly, I didn’t utter a word, but the sight of those giggling faces kept flying through my mind for the rest of the day. Take a minute and look around yourself. You’ll see a lot of people smoking around us. From colleagues to friends to strangers outside Metro Stations, the list is never-ending.
Once, I saw a very good friend of mine smoking outside the office’s cafeteria. A few days later, I saw him smoking yet again. This time, I went to him and asked him for a cigarette. He, in a trembling voice, said ‘I don’t smoke.” He was scared because he knew I don’t smoke.
A lot of people hesitate to admit that they smoke. Questions about smoking are often swept under the carpet. Some people might even go on to bully you, saying: ‘Man, grow up’ and ‘You haven’t lived your life’. Now, would someone be kind enough to tell me how on earth is smoking associated with growing up?
Smoking kills nearly eight million people globally. (That’s a huge number). College goers and young working professionals are falling prey to this menace. Earlier, cigarettes were cheaper, and people could light a cigarette almost anywhere. Cigarette manufacturers used to sponsor charity events, discussions and seminars. However, in those days, access to information was pretty much limited, and people weren’t ‘aware’ of the health risks associated with excessive tobacco use.
Today, the cost of cigarettes has skyrocketed, and people can no longer smoke as openly as they once could. Smoking is banned in public places. Furthermore, a warning sign pops up whenever a person lights a cigarette on the big screen.
Why do people smoke?
A common ‘reason’ they give is: ‘Zindagi mein Bahot tanaav hai’ (My life’s stressed-out). I quickly follow it up with another question: Would it fade away after you’ve smoked? What follows my question is indomitable silence.
As individuals, all of us need to decide how we want to live our lives. People need to understand is that the real face of smoking isn’t glamorous, and neither is it cool. The real face of smoking is covered with misery and disease. It is a disease that intensifies every time you light a cigarette.