LIFE

Championing the anti-smoking cause

Former hockey captain, Zafar Iqbal, former athelete, Sriram Singh, and ex-cricketer, Madan Lal, campaigning against the use of tobacco.

Former hockey captain, Zafar Iqbal, former athelete, Sriram Singh, and ex-cricketer, Madan Lal, campaigning against the use of tobacco.  

IMITATION, THEY say, is the best form of flattery. And employing this strategy in its anti-tobacco drive, the Heart Care Foundation of India has planned a unique pledge campaign for the upcoming "World No Tobacco Day'' tomorrow, May 31.

``Young people tend to imitate their idols -- who could be sportspersons, film stars or even political leaders. So in order to ensure that the young don't get tempted to pick up the habit of smoking, we are going to ask the idols of our society to sign a pledge asking not to be a part of any tobacco or tobacco- related promotion,'' says the executive vice-chairman of the Heart Care Foundation, K.K. Aggarwal.

And the signing campaign already includes names of the Delhi Chief Minister, Ms. Sheila Dikshit, and several of her Cabinet colleagues including Mahinder Singh Saathi, Raj Kumar Chauhan, Haroon Yusuf, Ajay Maken and Deep Chand Bandhu. Autographing the pledge at a press conference here today was Delhi's Health Minister, A.K. Walia, and well-known members of the sports fraternity -- international athlete and Arjuna Awardee, Sriram Singh, eminent cricketer and currently the selector for the Northern Zone, Madan Lal, and former captain of the Indian Hockey Team, Zafar Iqbal.

Highlighting the negative effects of smoking, the sports personalities emphasised that nicotine can effectively reduce a person's chances of becoming a sport star. "I have never smoked in my life and I think the main discouragement should come from within the family itself,'' said Mr. Iqbal.

The campaign, which would continue for the next year, hopes to involve film stars as well. "We want film stars who have the courage to refuse movies where they have to smoke to come forward,'' says Dr. Aggarwal.

And for all those who are still "dying'' for a smoke despite knowing its harmful effects, an alternative -- herbal smoking -- as prescribed by Ayurveda was suggested. This concoction of about 40 herbs does not contain nicotine and can satisfy the urge for a puff, assures the doctor.

By Anjali Malhotra

Photo: M. Lakshman.

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