Gulf News reader Ojas Sharma got around 200 people to sign pledges to say no to tobacco. Image Credit:

Sharjah

Life is the greatest gift given to us and we should treasure it, enrich it and love it because it is not only important to us but also our loved ones. It is for this reason that I think we need to raise awareness about the negative effects of smoking, as tobacco in any form damages the body. When someone smokes, I feel it is like they are saying, “I don’t care... not about myself, nor you.”

My inspiration for beginning the ‘Say No to Tobacco’ campaign came during ‘No Tobacco Day’ celebrations at The Indian High School, Dubai. I participated in this event at my school and gave a presentation on the harmful effects of smoking. I did a lot of research on the impact of smoking on the body. The statistics that I found on smoking-related deaths were shocking and I became convinced that I had to do something about the issue.

I was concerned about people who were addicted to cigarettes, especially teenagers. I have seen many teenagers falling prey to smoking, which affects them in all aspects of their life — physical, social, economical and emotional.

At present, I continue to interact with people about my campaign at my school, my karate centre and at the Al Nahda Park, which is located in my community. I have been able to communicate my concerns to people and make them understand my campaign. I think it is better to stop a bad habit before it starts, and hope to deter teenagers from smoking altogether. I have managed to get the pledge of at least 200 people to say ‘no’ to tobacco.

After speaking with smokers and nonsmokers, I have realised that most people are aware of the negative effects of smoking. However, smokers are so addicted to nicotine that it becomes difficult for them to quit the bad habit.

I urge readers to strive for a tobacco-free world. It is not impossible but it requires people to reflect and realise that they must make a conscious effort to let go of this habit.

— The reader is a pupil based in Sharjah.

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