Is quitting smoking a big deal? No Not at all! says this real story of a professional who’s done it

Smoking is injurious to health, so is the warning for smokers to quit smoking.  As we approach the Anti Tobacco Day on 31st may, we check the ground realities on how the sustained campaign has helped in reducing smoking.  While there is concerted effort in the form of signature campaigns, awareness programs and other events, the progress is visible only at an individual level.   Here’s one such case of a friend of mine whom I met after many years and was delighted to see him joyful, hale and healthy.  When I queried him as to what the secret was, here’s what I found.  

Srinivas Rao, a senior IT & BT journalist from Bangalore started smoking during college days just to get the fun element of it.  A decade back he touched a peak of nearly 80 to 100 cigarettes a day,  that’s when he decided to call it quits once in for all.  “I was attracted to various brands of cigarettes and the lifestyle attached to it.  I wanted to learn and try out smoking especially the methods like leaving the smoke in the form of rings, exhaling thro’ nose etc.  What started as an experiment reached the addictive stage’. “In the beginning stage (ie.,first year) of smoking, you are enjoying and after that you start getting addicted to it”.    Normally we see people smoking frantically when they are in some tense situations or to deflect the salvos from bosses for not achieving the sales targets etc.  However Mr. Srinivas says “I did not have any tension then to get to smoking.  Asked about what is the secret behind quitting smoking he says “ I did not announce that I was quitting.  I knew that tobacco won’t leave me so easily.  But it took almost 3 months to get a complete hold on to the situation.  It so happened that  I took a decision to quit one fine day and I’ve stuck to it till today”.  “Initially there was a lot of craving to smoke after I quit smoking.  I started feeling hungrier.  I neither took the help of a doctor nor a medical counselor to quit smoking.  I replaced smoking with hot water.  Instead of one cigarette every 10 minutes, I had a sip of hot water.  Its only after three months that I was comfortable to refuse any offers to smoke.”   

Smoking begins with curiosity, progresses to being a status symbol and becomes an addiction.  Sandy, an IT administrator in mid 30s from Bangalore says “I started smoking during my school days out of curiosity. I’m not a chain smoker though but I’ve not been able to quit permanently.  I have actually quit 3 times earlier but started again due to personal reasons.  Agrees Mr. Rao “Smoking is nothing but a pleasure point and a pure addiction” Despite knowing that it is harmful I used to smoke because I had an impression that having a cigarette either in hand or mouth would help me in free flow of thought while writing and I would be able to articulate my thoughts flawlessly”.  However after reaching the saturation point he decided to quit.  

Beginning & quitting smoking are two impulsive decisions.  One may begin while they are in a company or alone and upset.  One may quit smoking when they are told to do so by their loved ones such as wife, kids etc.  If you recall in the movie ‘The Italian Job, actor Jason Statham while smoking and driving a car stops at a signal point and looks at a digital hoarding which reads ‘Every minute smoking kills along with an indication of the No. of people killed every minute.  At that moment he squeezes the cigarette bud and stops smoking.  So likewise the trigger to quit smoking could be many. 

When do people quit smoking? They quit when they start having health issues such as cough, congestion in lungs and breathing problems.  In addition they quit due to moral obligations from their wives, kids and parents. “ I realized that there were moral issues such as smoking in front of parents and kids besides saving nearly 20,000 rupees every year which could be used for something good.” Says Mr. Rao.  “I quit because my wife told me to however I got back to it either because of being in the smokers club or when I was personally upset with someone or something.” says Sandy.  Smoking cannot be avoided unless and until an individual has a deep conviction.  Some of the smokers become addictive because of the acquaintance and some due to their personal choices.

Some smokers have a positive approach towards not hurting others’ sentiments.  They care about the passive smokers (People who inhale the smoke) in and around them and also are conscious of public places.  As per the recent landmark Supreme Court judgment, you cannot smoke in public places and it becomes an offence and a violation of the law.  We may not have any idea as to how many violations have been reported so far and how many actions have been taken against the individuals violating the law but we do know that the judgment of the supreme court has definitely brought some relief to passive smokers.  One of the kirana store in my vicinity whose neighborhood is a petty shop guy who sells cigarettes says “When we ask smokers not to smoke near our shop, it sometimes turns into ugly scenes with comments like is this your grandfather’s place for us to vacate?.   On the contrary, the petty shop owner who sells cigarettes in loose is very happy with such customers.  “sir we do good business by selling cigarettes loosely in ones and twos.  Says Sandy “If you really want the number of smokers to reduce in our country, we should ban the sale of cigarettes in small quantities like ones and twos.  Because that is what attracts the youth to smoking.“ Unlike India, cigarettes are not available in small quantities abroad especially in US.  You need to buy in packs. Similarly if you bring in such a rule in our country wherein you need to buy the full pack,  the new smokers even though they are tempted to buy will desist from it and thus it helps to drastically reduce not only the first time smokers but also the existing smokers.” Says Sandy. Cigarettes are usually shared one by two, in full and borrowed from the petty shop in the vicinity where the smokers group gather for smoking. 

According to the statistics of the Anti Tobacco cell Karnataka, India is the second largest producer and consumer of tobacco in the world after china with 275 million users.  People who are already suffering from cancer and other diseases like breathing disorders etc may further face problems because of smoking says Dr Gopalakrishan Bhat, An Ayurveda Praveen practicing avyurvedic medicine for over 4 decades based out of N R Colony, Bangalore. “People who smoke by taking the smoke deep inside the lungs will face more problems than those who just intake and leave the puff”. he adds  “The best thing would be to quit all those habits which are harmful.  “In order to get back to good heaIth after quitting smoking would be - proper timely food,  regular walking and yoga” says Dr Bhat.  Agrees Mr. Srinivas Rao, “Initially just after quitting smoking I was unable to absorb food properly because of nicotine content in the blood that caused vitamin deficiency which I overcame later.

I don’t smoke nor I have tried smoking.  However I’m happy to see people transforming voluntarily and lead a good healthy life.  If you are a smoker why don’t you try quit smoking? After all nothing is impossible in this world   

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