Smoking kills. A phrase that has been heard ever so often. But, feels much ignored when you see people lighting up. A cancer stick with carcinogens that go straight to the lungs and beckon emphysema, cigarettes have nothing good to offer. Yet, because of their dopamine trigger they continue to entrap and kill many.

Gulf News ran a campaign many years ago, Stub it Out. I think it is time to bring that back into action. It is time to #StubItOut, it is time we drove this killer from amongst us. Get someone you know to commit to quit smoking and help them along the journey. Tell us, and we’ll publish the success story to inspire others.

Smoking is an addiction and because of the chemical reaction that triggers in your body, breaking the habit is not an easy task. The people quitting need all our support and encouragement.

So, our top winner for the month of June is community reporter Sneha Krishna Murthi for her article, “Quit smoking and stop paying for your demise”, published on June 1, 2016. She has helped three people in her family cut down on smoking and urges others to do the same, along with raising the issue of public littering with cigarette butts. A two-pronged attack that was well written, properly researched and a good piece of public service. All of the things that a good community report is meant to be and do.

Second place goes to the report, “Urgent need for pedestrian bridges”, by Arjun Prasad, published on June 22. It raises an issue that has been raised a number of times previously by other reader writers, too. It is the urgent need for pedestrian crossings and bridges along Al Ittihad Road. An extremely busy thoroughfare, jay walking is a daily occurrence along this road, endangering numerous pedestrian lives. We hope the authorities pay heed to this request by the community.

Third place goes to the report, “Birds spotted eating plastic”, by Nitin Kumar. It was published on June 2. A rather tragic story about the abuse of our environment by people with little or no civic sense. How often have we seen this? Birds eating plastic bag bits, camels chewing on them or images of sea life choked on garbage dumped in natural water bodies. But, this silent tragedy seems to have little or no impact as can be seen in this article. People continue to litter, dump plastic and endanger animal lives and destroy the environment without any qualms.

Our only hope are the many community reporters that continue to escalate the matter repeatedly, hoping that at some point it will bring a mindset change. Until then, let us soldier on. So, till next month...



First: Sneha Krishna Murthi

Published on June 1, 2016.

Sneha Krishna Murthi, a pupil based in Abu Dhabi, tried to raise awareness against smoking through her report.

She said: “I think community reports are a wonderful platform for the residents to raise their voice about an issue. The reports are so meaningful and true. I hope when people read them they try to change themselves and further spread awareness. The issues highlighted are not for publicity but to spread awareness and the positive effects are also noticed.”

Due to her report, people in her father’s office promised to quit smoking.

She said: “The manager at my dad’s office appreciated my work and refused to smoke thereafter. My neighbour, after having read the article has reduced to smoking six cigarettes a week, which I take as a success. I received feedback from my friends from all over the country and the response was very positive. My purpose to raise awareness has been accomplished.”


Second: Arjun Prasad

Published on June 22, 2016.

Arjun Prasad, an assistant vice president based in Sharjah, highlighted the need for a pedestrian crossing in Sharjah’s Al Nahda area.

He said: “I feel that this is a great platform to get your message across to people. The reach that Gulf News has is regionwide and you know that many readers are reading the report. When they look at it, they can relate to it so it’s a focused reading audience.

“People have been very positive after reading my report, reinforcing my views on the subject. I shared the article with my friends and they agreed that this was an issue. I’ve been living in the area for 10 years and this has been the situation ever since. I have noticed that other people have also raised concern over the issue through Gulf News. But, I believe that if you keep raising awareness, eventually the issue will be resolved.”


Third: Nitin Kumar

Published on June 2, 2016.

Nitin Kumar, a sales coordinator based in Dubai, reported on birds consuming plastic that is left behind by people who litter.

He said: “If we have a conversation with people around us, it will have no impact on them. But, in a social platform, it will get noticed and become a talking point. People will start noticing it and perhaps even take action on their own.”

After his report was published, Kumar says he received a lot of acknowledgment by those around him.

He said: “I received compliments from my peers and family for the issues I raise. It is good to be acknowledged, because it will encourage me to be more proactive and raise awareness about other issues within the community.”


— Profiles compiled by Rabab Khan/Community Interactivity Editor