When Your Health & Money Get Burnt Up [Archives:1998/39/Health]

September 28 1998

Smoking tobacco along with chewing qat are the greatest health hazards. If you are a smoker you are probably tired of friends and relatives nagging you about the damage you are doing to your health.
In Yemen most smokers start at an early age, for social reasons. By regular smoking – cigarette after another, they become physically heavily dependent on nicotine.
I spoke to Abdulrahman Al-Rammah, 18, and this is what he said.
Q: When did you start smoking?
A: I was 12 when I lit my first cigarette. I wanted to tell the others, and prove to myself, that I was no longer a boy. I started acting as a grown up, and I thought that the first sign of being so was to hold a cigarette. In fact I was not alone. There were 8 of us, but each one had their own way of asserting themselves. They offered me the first cigarette. Later I started buying myself.
Q: How many cigarettes do you smoke daily?
A: I smoke about 12 cigarettes a day, mostly in the afternoons, especially over qat chews.
Q: Where do you get the money for the cigarettes?
A: I buy cigarettes with my pocket money.
Q: How much pocket money do you get, and how much do you spend on cigarettes?
A: I get YR 150 a day, and I spend YR 80 on cigarettes.
Q: Before being a smoker, what did you buy with your pocket money?
A: I used to buy soft drinks and sandwiches. I realize I have replaced with poison!!!
Q: Are you aware of the health risks?
A: I know almost everything about the risks of smoking. I know that smoking is the most important factor in many cancers and other diseases.
Q: Do you want to give up smoking?
A: No, because I feel smoking helps me to calm down and it helps me to deal with stress. I’m addicted now. I don’t smoke for fun. I have to smoke!
Q: What will happen if your parents find out?
A: I don’t care because they don’t take care about me. They just give me the money while oblivious to my other needs.
Q: Don’t you think you’re still young to talk about stress?
A: I don’t agree with you. Nowadays age doesn’t matter. Things are getting worse and tougher and we all suffer. Believe it or not, sometimes I wish I wasn’t born, I wish I died before reaching this age. I want to have a heart attack.
Then I spoke to a medical doctor about smoking. This is what he said.
Dr. Abdul Salaam Mohammed tells smokers:
“From the moment you give up smoking, your lungs start to return back to normal. Your risk of a heart attack starts to fall within the first 24 hours of your last cigarette. After 10 years, an ex-smoker will have the same risk of heart disease as a non-smoker. So it is worth to quit.
“If you’re a smoker, you probably don’t need reminding how much more socially acceptable your family and friends would find it if you stopped smoking. You’re probably also painfully aware of the amount of money that you’re burning up each week in the purchase of tobacco.
“You might also be encouraged to know that food will taste better and your sense of smell will recover once you stop smoking.”
Advice on how to stop smoking:
Smokers may want to give up, but don’t know how to.
Here are some steps that one should follow if he/she wants to give up:
1) The most important first step is to make sure you have decided to give up smoking.
2) Set a date to stop smoking.
3) When you stop, throw away everything that has to do with smoking. You are now a non-smoker.
4) Never say to yourself: “I’ll have just one.” This is dangerous, it always leads to another.
5) Plan to use the money you save for something else that is more enjoyable.
6) Plan to make yourself busy when you stop smoking by relaxing activities and increasing exercise etc.
7) Eat healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water.
8) Be ready for alternatives to cigarettes, especially at vulnerable times.
9) Try to form a non-smoking group with your family and friends. Keep vigilance.
By Adnan S Al-Shareqi