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March 21, 2021

Secondhand smoke worse than smoking

Islamabad

March 21, 2021

The family is an important medium though which cultural norms and values associated with smoking are shaped. Young boys often learn to smoke cigarettes by observing male elders smoking.

“My uncle smokes and he’s in his 40s. My cousins have started smoking and they are my age. The fascination is there. I see them buy cigarettes and I think what the fascination of it is,” says Irfan Abbas.

“My dad smokes as well, when you see someone else smoking in your family when you are young you kind of think that it is okay because they are doing it,” says Musa Kazim.

“The smoke puffed out by a smoker is dangerous to non-smokers. This secondhand smoke has the same harmful chemicals that smokers inhale. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. It causes cancer. It has more than 7,000 chemicals, including at least 70 that can cause cancer,” says Dr. Reza Syed.

“Cigarette smokers seem to pay no attention to the feeling of distaste their smoke passes to non-smokers. Secondhand smoke is harmful in other ways. For instance, breathing secondhand smoke affects the heart and blood vessels, which increases the risk of having a heart attack,” adds Reza Syed.

“Non-smokers who breathe in cigarette smoke take in nicotine and toxic chemicals the same way people who smoke do. The more you breathe it, the higher the levels of these harmful chemicals

in your body,” says Jawad Naqvi.

“Yesterday while visiting a shop with my son in Fazal Town, I was made to feel itchy by cigarette smoking person standing nearby. I tried to keep a distance from him and found a corner where there was no smoker. However, my pleasure did not last long. A man entered a shop with a lit-up cigarette, destroying my short-lived pleasure,” says Ali Hasan.

“Smoking in men is viewed with a strong sense of social acceptance, social bonding, and tradition and is seen as a normal part of being a man. This view is particularly strong in our society and shows the concept of macho identity. Fashionable images are also associated with smoking and reinforced by films and popular media,” says Hamayat Ali, a social activist.

“Age seems to influence the cultural acceptability of smoking. Because of elders’ respected status, people view it as more acceptable for older men. Smoking in young persons like me is quite disrespectful, particularly in front of elders. Thus, I hide it from older members of the family,” says Jafar Hussain.

Rajab Ali says, “I take the occasional puffs with my smoker friends, just for the fun of it because they are doing it in front of me and offer me a cigarette. If my peer group comprised predominantly non-smokers, I would not have started smoking.”