Fatal Mist…

Sit in a closed room, close your eyes and imagine this: Salman Khan pulling out a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and smoking a few of them before going all guns blazing against the bad guys. Think of Ranbir Kapoor smoking a cigarette while reliving the memories he spent with his beloved.

Now, think of a man sitting in a dark room, completely void of people, and coughing. He’s weak and frail. Imagine a guy lying motionless on his death-bed, vomiting blood. Dying a slow death from man’s worst killer i.e. lung cancer. Does that sound good? No, it certainly doesn’t.

Every day after having lunch, I have this habit of standing out there in the balcony. The moment the door leading to the balcony is opened, at least 10-15 people can be seen gossiping and smoking cigarettes with filters lying all over the place.

There’s a young lady I work with. She’s 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’s call, I saw her carrying a lighter. She held it firmly in her right hand and was on her way to the smoking zone (the balcony).  The very sight of her desperately making her way to the smoking zone made my heart sink in an ocean of gloom. I went there to have a chat with her leaving the call midway. She had one cigarette, which she was sharing with one of her female colleagues. She took a puff and passed it to her colleague. I stood there motionless as I saw them smoking and giggling.

I stood there, watching them. I wish I could barge into the balcony and snatch that cigarette from her. I really wanted to bring to her knowledge that smoke wasn’t the only thing she was blowing away; it was also her health and future I didn’t utter a word, but the sight of those giggling faces kept lingering in my mind.

If we take a minute out of our daily lives, we’ll see a lot of people smoking around us. From colleagues to friends to strangers outside Metro Stations, the list is never-ending. Today, if you ask people if they smoke, they respond plainly, saying ‘No’. What follows the response is a faint smile. Some people might even go on to bully you, saying: ‘ Man, grow up’ and ‘You haven’t lived your life’. Would someone be kind enough to tell me how on earth is smoking synonymous with growing up?

Smoking kills 6 million people globally. (That’s a huge number). More than 20% of the cancer-related deaths are caused by the use of tobacco. According to a report published by The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Every year, lung cancer causes nearly 1.6 million deaths. College goers and young working professionals are falling prey to this menace.

Earlier, cigarettes were cheaper and people could smoke pretty much everywhere. Companies manufacturing cigarettes used to sponsor charity events and seminars. However, in those days, information wasn’t something that was served to us on a platter and people weren’t aware of the hazards related to smoking.

Today, the cost of cigarettes has increased quite significantly and people cannot smoke as openly as they once could. Smoking is banned in public places and there’s a warning sign popping up whenever a person lights a cigarette on the big screen. But, the question that still lurks out there on the window is: 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? And they’re caught off-guard.

Today’s pop-culture is one of the biggest reasons behind this menace. The film’s protagonist lights up a cigarette blows smoke and kills all the bad guys. How is that relevant? I fail to understand.

We need to decide how we want to live our lives. It’s not just confined to participating in “No Tobacco Day”, it’s more about understanding the difference between ‘The Good’ and the ‘The Bad’. What people really need to understand is that the real face of smoking isn’t glamorous, and neither is it cool. The true face of smoking is covered with mist, a mist that thickens every time a puff is taken.



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