Emirates National School students take their anti-smoking message to the Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi in a bid to help people stamp out cigarettes. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Increasing concern at watching their friends and younger schoolmates take up smoking without understanding the hazards to their health was the driving force for their campaign.

But what a group of grade ten pupils at the Emirates National School did not anticipate was just how big their anti-smoking campaign ‘Nation without smoking, Power and Civilisation' would become.

"Our friends smoke a lot and we were worried at how that was affecting them, especially those that smoke ‘midwakh' [tobacco pipe]… so we decided to raise awareness about their harmful effects through this project," Abdul Aziz Al Rahbahi, 15, said.

They began by gathering information from Seha, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, and the Red Crescent Society. Soon, the initiative morphed into a week-long event.

"When we approached them and discussed our project, they told us they were keen to be a part of it, so the campaign began to grow… other pupils also were enthusiastic about doing their part, so they began organising plays, discussions and even a film," Abdulla Al Sa'adi, 15, said.

How to quit

Since it kicked off on February 26, pupils gather in the school's theatre to listen to lectures on different topics such as the effect of smoking on individuals and society, by special guests from various organisations, as well as advice on how to quit, with several of their peers sharing their stories on how they had done so successfully.

"It is amazing just how excited everyone is and how much effort they put into the campaign... we have already begun to see results as many classmates have begun to cut down or even stop smoking," Sultan Al Mutrafi, 15, said.

Running alongside the school programme was a community outreach initiative at Marina Mall which was organised by the pupils.

"We thought it would be great if we could bring our message to as many people as possible so we decided to have a stand where we could pass out brochures and also talk to people about this harmful habit," Mohammad Al Jaber, 15, said.

The pupils have begun to receive positive feedback not only from their peers, families and the community but also from organisations that are supporting and participating in the campaign.

Get in touch

To learn more about the campaign, you can follow the pupils on Twitter on @EnsNoSmoking or contact them on EnsNoSmoking@gmail.com