Gulf News reader Samitha De Silva, a pupil, took this photograph in Dubai. He said: “I see these pupils very often. I think they walk home from school or maybe use public transport. I am sure they are aware of the effects of smoking. Then why are they doing it at such a young age? They don’t have to deal with a lot of stress. Is it just for fun? They buy the cigarettes from a supermarket nearby. The authorities should take action against such outlets selling cigarettes to underage customers. Also, parents should be aware of what their children are doing after school.” Image Credit: Gulf News reader Samitha De Silva

Sharjah is considering a ban on the sale of cigarettes by grocery stores close to schools in a bid to stop teenagers from smoking. It is a habit that is unhealthy, more so when adopted at such a young age. But while almost every-one condemns it, everyone also knows that it is very common. Whether as a sign of rebellion or for experimentation, many teenagers continue to smoke. Why are guardians unable to reach out to those teenagers and make them aware of the damage they are doing to their bodies? Will banning the sale of cigarettes make any difference? And are parents simply not able to set the proper example for their children to follow?

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15:38 Gulf News: Banning the sale of cigarettes to underage customers is the solution to the problem of smoking among teenagers.

15:39 Suman Shafi: I do not think that banning cigarettes will make quite a difference.

15:39 Shajitha Shifa: According to data [by smoking-facts.net a website aimed at raising awareness about smoking] each day 3,000 children smoke their first cigarette and at least three million adolescents are smokers.Therefore the step taken by the Sharjah government is good but will it be followed by all the retailers?

15:39 Masooma Bilgrami: No it is not a definite solution, but it is a step towards controlling the trend of smoking among teenagers.

15:39 Sandhya Shetty: While it is a very good step, teenagers who want to smoke will go to any length to get their daily dose, even if it means smuggling it onto their school premises.

15:39 Suman Shafi: The fact is that now smoking is not seen as a health hazard by teenagers, but as a fashion trend.

15:40 Gulf News: Mass media has glorified smoking as something ‘cool', which is why teenagers pick up the habit.

15:41 Leah Thomas: As far as the teenagers are concerned, they smoke to feel cool or independent. They do it because their friends do it. Cigars are especially seen as a status symbol that goes with living the high life.

15:42 Akshaya Parthasarathy: Teenagers nowadays are always trying to find somewhere to "fit in" and sometimes they are misled by the thought that things like smoking would make them "cool".

15:42 Sandhya Shetty: Peer pressure is the key to getting into bad habits, not fashion.

15:43 Shajitha Shifa: Cigarette companies incorporate into their advertisements the impression that smoking is a forbidden pleasure and part of entering the adult world.

15:43 Pavan Kumar: Teenagers feel that smoking can be stopped after enjoying it, but that is a false belief - cigarettes are an addiction.

15:43 Leah Thomas: Teenagers seem to be more abrasive when smoking or they feel like they are older and wiser when they smoke. Instead of eating, many teenagers - especially girls - will smoke a cigarette. This satisfies a craving, and keeps their mind off food.

15:43 Sneha Sunny: If parents inculcate strong values in children then they'll be able to resist smoking as well as any other temptation to a great extent.

15:43 Suman Shafi: I agree that smoking is not merely an individual's habit, but derived from the groups they are a part of.

15:44 Masooma Bilgrami: It is mostly peer pressure. I have witnessed so many cases when youngsters are forced to indulge in smoking, which further may lead to drinking habits as well. Teenagers, especially boys, do this in order to fit into the ‘cool gang' and often do this without their parents' knowledge.

15:45 Vasanthi Samuel: Children want acceptance from their friends, since they do not want dejection and loved by their friends they want to show off, pick up language, style and other things from their friends.

15:45 Sandhya Shetty: Teenage years are the most volatile and sensitive years of one's life. If you can control your urges and decide to do what's right for you, you will never go wrong.

15:46 Samuel Victor: It's a terrible, like an awful drug. That's why it's so hard to quit.

15:46 Suman Shafi: Teenage years are indeed the years when you wish to do what others do, in order to meet a sense of mingling with other peers, otherwise you are always "out of the group".

15:46 Pavan Kumar: To stop the child from smoking, the parents should stop first. The main cause for the child to smoke is parents - only when they smoke does the child get a feeling that I should smoke, too.

15:47 Masooma Bilgrami: But sometimes, the teenagers get inspired by their parents or any adult who is a smoker. They think, if their parents can smoke, then why can't they? In such a situation, it is the duty of the parent who is smoking to stop smoking. Only then can they show their child the right path.