Saturday, 18 January, 2020
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OPINION

Teen Smoking



Binaya Ghimire

My father does not smoke. When I was in teens, I did not see my elders smoking. My extended family did not influence me smoking, however, mass media had a tremendous impact in my thinking. When I saw my favourite actors smoking, I thought smoking made me cool. In the advertisement they showed girls attracted to young smoking man, and smokers doing courageous things. I was a tenth grader when I first tried cigarette. I chocked, and had a bout of cough; however, I went to try again few days later. I chocked again, and I never considered smoking until I was in college.
While in college, I had friends who were habitual smokers. There was some sort of peer pressure. I smoked in the parties and outings. When I was in the university, I read a government report that said Nepal is a country with the highest number of women smokers, second to China. Nepal government initiated Quit Smoking Campaign.
My father never told me not to smoke or quit smoking. When he learnt I was smoking, he bought a pamphlet about health risks of smoking and kept it on my writing desk. I read it thoroughly, and thought occasional smoking had no harm.
“I never smoked, never used tobacco in any form, but my son smokes. Maybe I’m a bad father,” one day I heard him telling to mother.
He did not say a word to me but made me feel guilty. I washed my hands.
A friend of mine from school days shares quite an interesting story about how he quit smoking. Whenever someone asks or offers a cigarette, he says I quit when I was a kid. People dismiss his answer as a joke. However, it is a truth. My friend’s father was a smoker. He was always fascinated with the cigarette smoke whenever his father exhaled smoke through nostrils. One day, when he was around 9-10 he decided to try. He stole a cigarette, went to the roof terrace, and lighted the cigarette. He was just about to blow O when he fell flat on the floor. It was his father who had kicked him. My friend landed on the floor so hard that he was bleeding from the mouth. Instead of cigarette smoke he threw blood.
My friend never touched cigarette again. When he was in college, there was always peer pressure to try one or two puff. However, he always tasted blood in his mouth. One could always argue hitting kid is bad, however, father’s hitting installed good habit in my friend. Fear can sometimes do wonder.
Sometime back I read a report that stated that in the United States, Canada and Nepal, around 20 per cent of the teens smoke daily or occasionally. One of the major reasons for teen smoking is peer pressure. If we want our teens not to smoke, we need to check whether they have smoking friends.  

How do you feel after reading this news?