Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Chain of Smokers

When Monica Etoh’s mum learnt that her daughter had gained admission into the University of Port Harcourt, her joy knew no bounds as she let go of her unnatural western disposition to sing out her heart in her native Itsekiri dialect and further topped the songs with duly complementary dance steps.

In the same spirit of joy, she quickly reached for a notepad and pen and began noting all the items her daughter would need in order for her to comfortably study for her undergraduate degree at the university. She did not miss out on cooking utensils, food items, sleeping materials, wears and shoes, toiletries and finally textbooks, notebooks and pens.

As she drew the list, she observed that the same list would be useful for subsequent semesters since she would only need to mark out the variable items. However, little did she know that her daughter would by the end of her first year top the list with another item that to her was more important than food.

On resumption of the first semester, Monica’s mum drove her daughter down to the university and helped her settle down in the five-man room allocated to her by the school authority. She was elated to discover that her daughter would be in the same room with daughters of prominent Nigerians and in particular, with the daughter of the immediate past President of the country. Concluding to herself that her daughter was in excellent company, she returned home with thoughts of prospective business and social opportunities that the divine positioning of her daughter would bring.

As Monica’s mum returned to life as usual and quickly adjusted to not seeing her daughter every day, Monica also settled down to attending classes by day and socializing at night. It was not long before she learnt that in addition to spending lavishly, her rich roommates had another fund consuming but inglorious addiction, smoking cigarettes.

Remembering all her home training and words of advice from both parents, she resolved never to put a stick of cigarette to her mouth but convinced herself that she could still remain friends with her affluent roommates. As first semester drew to a close, Monica was glad she had held on to her resolve and when she realized she had never even felt any itch to try to smoke, she surmised that  she could never become a smoker. So, on completion of her examination papers, she went home a proud daughter of her mother and father, unabashed, unashamed.

Second semester rolled in and Monica got more accustomed to campus life. She also became closer to her roommates and found herself befriending their friends who were of course, smokers. One non smoker amidst at least ten smokers would require a strengthened restraint not to join the smoking party and Monica strove hard to attain this might.

However sadly, after strongly resisting the continuous lures, pokes, taunts and jeers from her smoking friends for several days, weeks and months, she finally succumbed to their friendly fire one faithful evening when on one of their group outings, the ex-president’s daughter went to her side, put her cigarette in her mouth and encouraged her to inhale only once. She then took a puff, coughed a little and smiled shyly at the sound of reassuring loud applause from her friends. As the cheering went on, another roommate took out an unfinished cigarette pack and lighter from her handbag and placed it in Monica’s bag. She then proceeded to give Monica crucial lessons that will ensure her parents never suspect the new habit. She was told to discard a stick before it reaches its tail end to prevent darkening of her fingernails and to always chew gum or take an orange or glass of milk after smoking to conceal the scent of smoke in her breath and on her body.

Starting with one puff from a friend’s cigarette, Monica graduated to smoking two sticks a day before the end of her first year at the university and before she could realize what had gotten hold of her, she was smoking two packets a day. At this point, she knew she had been formally joined to the chain of smokers.

Just like Monica, people who find themselves consistently in the company of smoking friends and relatives are not only prone to health challenges as a result of secondhand smoke; they are also prone to picking up the lethal habit. Existing smokers have the capacity to generate a chain of smokers in their community.

According to GATS Nigeria report, only 45.4% of people who smoke have made any attempt to quit. We can infer that they intend to hold on to their practice and the longer they smoke for, the longer they have to induce non-smokers into taking that first puff that eventually graduates into smoking more than one pack of cigarettes a day and the chain goes on.

To protect the health of our young ones and future generations, it is imperative that the chain is stopped as soon as possible and you can join us to achieve this through the Tobacco Control Nigeria project. Sign up as a Tobacco Control Cause Champion today by sending your 1) Name, 2) Email address, 3) Telephone number and 4) Location to: info(at) Signing up will get you a chance to have a specially designed Facebook, Twitter and G+ profile banner graced with Stella Damasus’ picture.

You should also actively participate in the discussions presently ongoing on the following social media platforms:

- Twitter: Follow @TobaccoCtrl
- Facebook: Visit and like Tobaccoctrl
- Google Plus: add Tobaccoctrl to your circle
- 2go: add Tobaccoctrl

*Disclaimer: Monica's story above is a work of fiction though inspired by true life events.


John Adams said...

Smoking habits are bad for everyone. Some people use to smoke to maintain their personality.
Disposable Electronic Cigarette

My Thots said...

Right on point Jonh. I do wonder what personality smokers will still be maintaining by the time their body starts falling apart because of the habit.