There is no doubt that we are in the middle of a sustained and multi-pronged attack on the freedom to smoke. From government to NGOs, medicine to municipality, every quarter has some good ground of opposing this age-old habit. But is it really worth it, and do we really need this outside help?
By now every single chemical component of tobacco might have been analysed for its adverse effects on the human body. The chemicals have been counted as well, thousands of them, and over 10 considered carcinogenic. The medical spent on fighting these illnesses is said to be 10-12% more than the tax revenue earned in India.Yet, the share prices of cigarette companies have soared. With work stress perceived to be at an all time high, what will we turn to for relief?
‘A woman is a woman, but a cigar is a smoke,’ so said Kipling. Those were the days when even doctors smoked. The link between smoking and cancer is not a new discovery either. The movies relied heavily on the cigarette and cigar smoke – it was macho, romantic, and created the right effect of men being themselves, in control of their thoughts.
I doubt whether the assault on cigarette smoking is not double edged – it is also an attempt to curtail our power of being ourselves, self-contained, thinking beings. Non-smokers must have felt the awe of being present in a smoker’s company – only grown ups can smoke and be themselves. It is an adult activity, and so children too imitated the act in an attempt to appear grown up.
On the other hand, lets understand that, beyond moderation, any habit such as this is going to boomerang. Let’s substitute ice-cream for cigarette. Try consuming 20 or more cups/cones of ice-cream everyday, for 20 years. You may not survive that long, chances are.
Smoking is a matter of discipline, and it is futile to teach discipline to adults. Nor can we appreciate the organised public control of personal dietary habits. An attempt must come from the smokers – to see how much more pleasurable smoking can be, if done only occasionally in mild doses.
Tomorrow is No Smoking Day. Let’s make a determined attempt to safeguard our health and freedom.