Each year some nine lakh people stop smoking in India — upon their death.

It’s actually funny how people get into the habit of smoking and thereafter, of chain-smoking. Just once or twice you smoke, the nicotine tricks you into believing you ‘actually’ like smoking, and we know what happens subsequently. For instance, most of the smokers I have known till date were ‘forced’ into smoking. Actually, many don’t like the idea of smoking in the first place. Peer pressure has got to them. Men and women with low self-esteem are particularly susceptible.

Unfortunately, those like me who are non-smokers find it hard to deal with these people. Sometimes they are people close to us. For one, smoking is a degenerative habit. Also, persuading others to smoke is totally wrong. I vividly remember on my first day at college being ridiculed for not ‘grabbing a puff’, as my mates say. When I ignored an offer of a semi-smoked cigarette, he stood akimbo with a frown on his face.

Sometimes I have to have a chocolate stick when they’re letting off greyish smoke in different shapes into the air. They are surprised at my strong stand in not smoking. Yet, when I refuse their ‘smoky’ offers, they become more sedulous in adding me to the smoking fraternity. Their loopy, heart-shaped smoky puffs soared higher even as their academic performance dwindled and vaporised. They had smoky visions of pleasure and addiction. Several times I tried to sermonise to them on the ill-effects of smoking ‘cancer sticks’. Then you come to know that nothing can stop a man smoking until only the butt is left, a sign of its short-lived existence.

Cigarettes and their victims share the same character. Both smoke away to death, causing harm to people around them. Many wanting to replicate their celluloid superstars think smoking helps them jazz up their style.

Let individuals decide for themselves what’s good and what’s bad. We all know the facts. Only fools and idiots would override caution and fall into danger. However harsh and frightful the graphics may look on a cigarette package, smokers never care. And even in the face of the urge to ‘light a cigarette and grab a puff’, non-smokers never dare do so. A cigarette is the only product which, when used as directed, kills its consumer.

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