Sukhato A Sema, the Mission Director of the National Health Mission (NHM), Nagaland announced this year that our State is the second highest consumer of tobacco in India. Cigarette accounts for 26.3 per cent as the most common form of tobacco consumed in the state followed by other gutka products. Tobacco is a recognized carcinogen. Most of these consumers are school and college going teenagers. To tackle this problem, Tetso College maintains a ‘Tobacco Free Campus’ with utmost austerity. Here is a true account from a student who was recently caught on campus in possession of this harmful substance. He narrates the episode and shares his afterthoughts on tobacco consumption.
A Tobacco Free Life
Mistakes help us understand the existing theory of life about what is good and what is not. At times a mistake may appear overly good to confront it, while sometimes it may seem too dreadful even for our wildest dreams. But no matter how many mistakes we make or how many failures we face in life, it is certain that the success and happiness that we achieve through it will surely make us wiser. Though mistakes can’t be undone, it does teach us a lesson which can make us wiser should we choose to learn from it. It is true that one can never wipe his slate clean and start afresh, but if one learns from one’s mistake, it has the power to change the person, his beliefs and practices.
Few days ago, I was unfortunately caught at our college gate in possession of ghutka and was penalized with a fine of Rs600. Embarrassed and frustrated, I was totally baffled about how/where I could get the money to payoff for the trouble I got myself into for a mere packet of tobacco that cost just Rs5. The solution was simple “My parents!” But my mind was really disturbed and I found myself asking, “Is tobacco really that important in my life?” This was the first time that I had ever asked myself this question. In fact, I surprised myself within seconds with the answer. As the classes got started I took a seat, one closest to the fan. I could not help but wonder, what a thousand packets of tobacco could do to me in the future. I realized that the answer was just lying on the surface, waiting to be noticed. It did not require any research to find out what it could do to the consumer. The product itself had the answer written on its cover “TOBBACO CAUSES CANCER” and foolishly I was taking it everyday. We consume it everyday without a second thought. But actually, it is staggering to even imagine how cancer can be caused by just a Rs. 5 packet of tobacco. Right now, we don’t appreciate when the college charges fines to stop us from bringing or consuming tobacco. But ten, twenty years down the line, if diagnosed with cancer, hospitals will be charging us with lakhs of rupees for treatment. Then we will be left with nothing but “I wish”.
I now realize that tobacco was/is not at all important in life. It is just a very bad habit which can be easily checked if we want, for this habit will not have any positive effect in the long run. Rather it is a suicide, with death staring at one’s face. Here is an alarming fact for us to really think twice the next time we decide to buy this killer tobacco, “Worldwide, tobacco use causes nearly 6 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030”.We know that death is the inevitable fate of every man and we fear it, but despite one’s fear of death, we still tend to invite it by continuously indulging in habits that will ultimately destroy our lives.
Gambling is an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning. Although one’s intent is to win, one is not sure what the outcome will be when the dice is rolled, and it is this uncertainty that gives the thrill and rush of adrenaline to a gambler. When we consume tobacco, you and I are gambling with our life, the only difference in this gamble is that there is no thrill, no rush of adrenaline and with the dice of life already thrown; there is no uncertainty about the outcome and it leads to nothing but us losing. It is hard to accept or even contemplate how such a habit so injurious to health has taken a deep root in our society, almost beating the pop culture. Ironically, every tobacco consumer is aware of the fact that tobacco causes cancer and this is very sad.
In life, at one point or the other we will all make bad decisions; but we should be smart enough to realize our faults and learn from it. Sadly, there are some who are too ignorant or arrogant to even admit one’s own mistake and try to change. We should try to remember that everybody makes mistakes, no one is perfect. Along the way, everyone is bound to make bad decisions or do something they really didn’t think they should have .But the trick is to realize where we have gone wrong and do all we can to do better next time around.
Now, what about you and me? Are we willing to admit to our mistakes and change? Are we going to admit that the decision to take tobacco is wrong and change for the better? Are we so weak that we have become slaves to this habit? I think not; I truly believe that we are strong, we can change; we have the power within us to be whoever and whatever we want to be. Let’s take charge of our lives and start living a tobacco free life.