Nothing “smoky” about it?

smokin2.jpegCall it self-centered or even shortsightedness, that when I was told to write an article on the environment I began by thinking how safe and unpolluted my own environment was. When I pondered over it, my mind went back to what had been on it for quite sometime now. The same issue which I had been avoiding for ages, the fact that I am a passive smoker, aware and conscious yet unable to do anything about it.

It is a dilemma which has been troubling me for long enough. I made a choice as an individual not to smoke. Others, on the other hand, in spite of being educated individuals, decided to go ahead and pollute the very interiors of their own bodies. The so-called ‘others’ are some of my friends. I may completely disagree with their point of view, I may detest their habit, but again, at the end of the day I will go back to them and spend time with them.

This is a predicament, a problem that has not been solved by me and probably will never be. Smoking is an issue with me, but probably I don’t consider it distressing enough to not see my friends. I know, that some of the people I know genuinely make an effort not to smoke when I am around, but the restlessness for a smoke which directly affects the quality of our conversation, forces me to say, “Its ok…go ahead..”. If it can be blamed entirely on peer-pressure is a question that remains unanswered. For me, its more about my complacency. I often wonder why doesn’t direct bodily harm generate an immediate reflex action from my side? Why do I continue to sit there?

It is estimated that prolonged exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, such as in the home, increases the risk of lung cancer by approximately 20 to 25%. Even if I do not accept the accuracy of these percentages, it is well established that one has an increased chance of developing lung cancer through passive smoking if one is a non-smoker but live with someone who smokes. Studies have also proved other alarming short-term and long-term repercussions of passive smoking.

Looking at the bottoms-up view of this picture, I feel a strange sort of fear. At the macro level there is enough being done, with smoking being banned in public places in most countries. All airports have smoking lounges and restaurants have non-smoking areas. Surprisingly, there is no or little effort at the micro level. And we all know, charity begins at home…

Any other ‘aware-yet-wont-do-anything’ types out there? It would be great to hear what you think. Probably all you selfless smoker-friends also have a thing or two to say…

Vatsala Tibrewala