''I reflected losing 54,000 Birr and 5,400 hours (90 days) due to smoking for over 15 years in the row. I smoke more than ten cigarettes per day. While calculated in terms of money, I spend over five and above Birr daily. Smoking consumes about an hour of my day. Loosing 300 Birr per month makes me out of pocket most of the time. Each month, thirty hours are squandered away from my life. The bitter fact that, due to smoking, I am losing 3,600 Birr and 360 hours (15 days) annually has dawned on me. It turned a source of anxiety. If I allow the bad habit to go on, I realized, it could cast a shadow on my temperate life. It soared my expenditure and threatened my life statuesque or cost of living. I started smoking when I joined university. I was 25 then. Now I am 40. I am a father of two daughters and a son.
Sometimes I ponder on the matter. I understand how my throat and lung strongly withstood 15 days of nonstop burning in fifteen years. It is common that smoking exposes one to sophisticated health problems. From force of habit, I start my day puffing before taking breakfast. You can guess how poles apart are the lives of a smoker and a non smoker. The nonsmoker will have more time to do his/her tasks on time and have a space to think wisely. Also, sometimes I am apprehensive that smoldering my lungs I may drop dead.''
This was the testimony of a smoker, who wanted to be unanimous. This writer has a stay with this interviewee about how smoking affected his life. It is easily discernible how hopelessness and restless enveloped his life. The smoker regrets being cigarette addict has made his life knotty. Let us see how it made his life thorny.
Currently, he is a cameraman in one of the media outlets here in Addis Ababa. He is versatile. He likes doing things based on discussions. He is acknowledged by his colleagues for his commitment. Unfortunately, being a smoker cripple him from utilizing his maximum effort and to outshine in his occupation. He dreams more to contribute to his nation during his life time. But as a matter of chance being addicted to cigarette hampers him from performing what he planned.
He reminisces how he started smoking as follows. ''I never forget the day I started smoking. It was when I was a sophomore student I joined the smokers' group in campus. I was intoxicated that day. We were marking the closing of the semester that ushers in a vacation. I did try my best and studied hard to prove successful in my exams. Unfortunately, the reverse turned out to be true. During that time I used to pick cigarette stubs thrown by friends. One of my friends tried to discourage me in vain. But, intoxicated, nothing could deter me from smoking.''
Though now he is struggling to quit smoking he can't break loose from the fettering chain of the bad habit. He becomes peevish when a minute passes when he itches for a puff. Yet he is striving to get out of the bad habit.
''In bars, my inveterate habit takes the upper hand. Next day similarly I long for cigarettes. Frankly speaking, I find it hard quitting smoking. I go to church and swear to stop smoking. But I easily yield to the temptation posed by campus friends, who hold out their hands towards me to share a half burnt cigarettes. From force of habit,with slackened defense, I accept the offer. Sill I strive to quit smoking.'
After being aware of the negative impact of smoking, reluctance to stop smoking, is considered as lack of responsibility and low self esteem.
He emphasized that being only a smoker is an encumbrance to winning credibility and acceptance by the public. Specially Ethiopians attach a downgrading outlooks about smoking. ''Parent's set example to their children. Children more often grow on the footsteps of their parents. While I am experiencing a nonstop harm the outcome affects my family too. They are also sharing my injury and tribulation.''
He is leading his life as usual but still faces challenges in managing his family.
Ethiopia's activities regarding managing the impact of cigarette is promising. But it needs further works regarding prohibiting and restricting smoking at public gatherings. Stressing price and tax measures is believed to play a crucial role in reducing the demand for tobacco. Our world has lost several prominent people due to smoking. Smoking highly attacks brain and changes the way a person thinks. As a prudential measure, this year the Ethiopian parliament has ratified the restriction of smoking at public gatherings in a way towards the quality of life. But while coming to the implementation of the regulation, still, it requires coordinated efforts to limit smokers' habit of puffing at public gatherings. At public gatherings, different segments of the society could be there. Religious leaders, children,babies, students as well as elders and anyone else who hates cigarette smokes.
Its socio-economic impact on society is increasing from time to time. While viewed from the angle of healthiness as well as economic aspects, smoking consumes money and time.
Counter to the previous trend, citizens in general and girls in particular are becoming less shy in smoking publicly. Preposterous to the deep rooted perception, not seeking a deserted place is being counted a sign of shyness. Thus,nowadays, smokers are seen not discouraged to smoke in front of their children, friends, family as well as colleagues.
Unfortunately, smoking is becoming the leading attributable cause of deaths worldwide. Doctors are repeatedly warning people to give up smoking in a bid to fight it out. The mortality rate of smokers due to tobacco relatively is high.
“What is there to be gained from smoking? Everyday I ask myself. I cant tell a single benefit smoking affords the smoker except putting one's health at jeopardy. The impact of smoking is divers and inflicts chronic problems on the health of smokers. This includes: Lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, infertility (Reproductive health problem in women) as well as other types of cancer including colon, cervix, liver, stomach and pancreatic cancer. Having this in mind, smoking could be considered as playing with fire.
According to the report of World Health Organization (WHO), cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. It is responsible for 87 percent of lung cancer deaths worldwide. Of the more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful, including hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia. Among the 250 known harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 69 can cause cancer.
St. Peters Specialized Hospital Internal and Lung Diseases Specialist Dr. Aschalew Worku advises smokers to quit smoking sooner. The impact of smoking is complicated. It militates against the socio-economic life of the smoker him/herself, children, family and a country in general.
''Smokers exposure to heart diseases is three-fold greater while compared to the non-smoker's .''
When the smoke gets itself into to the body is causes different impacts on the health condition of the person. It causes brain stroke, blood clotting, and physical balancing problem. It as well causes weakness as well as throat, lung, cervical and intestine cancer. Also heart problem and failure are the attendant ills of heart failre.
Dr. Aschalew stresses that ''There is no a minimum phase dose.'' If a person smokes a cigarette per day and the other smokes a package daily the impact on the health of both is almost similar.
This writer had posed a question to Dr. Aschalew regarding the challenges most smokers raise. “Due to the tobacco's chemical or nicotine effect on the body, smokers need critical psychological assistance and counsel from health professionals.
He emphasizes that there is no well trained medical professionals team and health sectors in providing and encouraging cigarette smokers to stop their addiction. Due to public gatherings and till recent time the unavailability of a designated area for smoking, non smokers were suffering from indirect smoking. This is because the smokes find their way in to the breathing system of nonsmokers.
Dr. Aschalew finally recommended that it is possible to minimize the injury of cigarette smokers' health using nicotine replacement treatment which is being delivered abroad.
Smokers have breathing problem because smoking damages the lungs. If one has asthma, one can suffer more frequent and more serious attacks. One's lungs could be very badly affected by smoking. Coughs, colds, wheezing and asthma which are just the early symptoms of the addiction. Smoking results in fatal diseases such as pneumonia, emphysema and lung cancer.
Smokers are at greater risk for diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular diseases).
To sum up, smoking should not be allowed at public gatherings, schools and other workplace like governmental and non governmental organizations. For instance ,a teacher smoking cigarette might not be one best placed to teach children. Otherwise, what will they learn from him? Similarly some public figures like artists, religious leaders and elder persons engaged in this activity could strip of the nation ethical and healthy successors. Playwrights too need exercise care not to promote and agitate smoking. Due consideration should be given to characterization while actors perform in theaters and films. Negligence in doing so could be facilitating a hopeless, demoralized, unproductive and addicted generation.
The negative impact of smoking on social life as well as the economic progress of an individual and a nation must not be allowed to continue. Let us fight out the habit of smoking once and for all and spare the coming generation fatal lung and related cancers.
WRITTEN BY TEWODROS KASSA