Switching to a healthy lifestyle is generally on everyone’s bucket list but it’s easier said than done. There are certain habits that don’t go away easily and smoking is number one on that list. Ayesha Toor knows that all too well as smoking is something the model and actress has been trying to quit for a really long time now. She says she has managed to switch to a pretty healthy lifestyle but smoking is proving to be the biggest challenge yet. In a bid to spread awareness regarding the hazards of smoking, Ayesha is working with media production, Incision Films, as part of a public advocacy campaign called Pledge Against Consumption of Tobacco (PACT).
Incision Films aims to empower change through awareness by creating compelling content that captivates audiences, inspires action and derives results.Talking about the initiative, Ayesha told Instep that it is a music video that has already been shot and is in the editing phase. "It is not just a public service campaign, it is also a personal initiative as I believe that we talk about drugs and other addictions but we never talk about smoking cigarettes that are extremely harmful for health," she said.
Every year 1.5 million people die due to tobacco related diseases and the idea behind the song/music video is to make young people aware of tobacco consumption as a global epidemic.
With this campaign, the goal is to educate youth about the problems associated with smoking. Using music as a medium, Incision Films – founded by director Shariq Khan in collaboration with guitarist, composer and music producer, Shallum Xavier and singer Ahmed Jehanzeb – came up with the idea to promote anti-smoking amongst youth.
"The tobacco or advertising companies always show that lighting a cigarette is so cool and it kind of urges you to rebel in order to look different from everybody else," she shared, adding that we are trying to tell the target audience, which is the youth of today, that smoking is not cool.
"The younger lot is easily influenced by advertising and marketing and this is just an effort to tell them that smoking is actually a very disgusting habit and injurious to your health," she furthered. "In fact, people around you are also consuming second hand smoke, which is harmful for their well-being. This video is a way to convey the message that smoking might have been cool some 50 years ago but it’s not anymore."
When asked about her lifestyle and her smoking habit, Ayesha revealed that she has a pretty healthy lifestyle but quitting smoking is quite difficult. "I have a phenomenal relationship with food and I don’t have body dysmorphia. I go to the gym, I eat healthy, I don’t do drugs, I take care of myself, but getting rid of smoking is one of the toughest things I’m still trying to do."
As for the steps she is taking to quit, she said that she surrounds herself with people who have healthy habits/lifestyle. "It is an on-going process; a long journey, to say the least."
Recalling how it all started, Ayesha shared, "My friend and I found cigarettes that belonged to my friend’s mother. We were in 8th grade and we were just being naughty. Even though we didn’t know how to smoke, we still went ahead and both of us got caught and got scolded and yelled at. So it started then. But let me tell you that no smoker would ever say that they take pleasure in smoking; they are always guilty; they are always ashamed of it."
According to Ayesha, the most important thing is to ‘never’ shame the person who is addicted to smoking and ‘never’ put them down. "Do not ever tell them they are disgusting. One has to explain things by giving logical reasons, facts and figures. As we grow older it is our responsibility to do so but it has to be done tactfully, specifically when dealing with the youth. You just can’t say I’m older than you and I know what’s best for you."
On a parting note, she spoke about the importance of taking care of your body and that taking small steps towards a healthy lifestyle is the way to go. "Though this video/initiative is about smoking, we are well aware that there are so many other drugs easily available in our city; in fact, all around the world. It is frightening and, obviously, we have to focus on the youth because they are easily influenced and they want to rebel against the system. I firmly believe that a little bit of awareness and a little bit of kindness towards the youth will actually go a long way."