RESIDING just a few blocks away from the campus, I was one of few, privileged people who, on their way to school, absorb vehicles’ gas emissions and ‘fresh-from-the mouth’ cigarette smoke for breakfast, with a bonus soot scent on my hair and uniform, even before my first class.

With the recent memorandum issued by Manila City Mayor Alfredo Lim, banning the sale of tobacco products within 100-meter radius from all schools in Manila, I had hopes that I would not witness the same scenario outside the walls of the University, at least for my last 10 months of stay here in this so-called smoke-free campus.

The implementation went as far as confiscating cigarette packs sold in convenience stores along Dapitan Street. However, the order implemented last February was not able to prevent street vendors from their “secured” stands in the streets of Antonio and Asturias from selling cigars to students.

The government cannot compel a total ban on these luxuries; cigarettes, and alcoholic drinks for instance, because health has always taken a back-seat in the government’s priorities.

Health-related projects and activities, on the other hand, remain mere options. Being stewards of our own body is seen not anymore as a necessity, but an extra load of responsibility, apart from studying, working and earning money to provide for one’s health. How much does the government allot for public health, compared to tourism and other fast-earning industries?

Come to think of it, besides dirty uniforms and selfish health concerns, smoking may be the best, perhaps the cheapest way of digging up one’s own grave. Spending only P2 for a decent stick of cigar that can satisfy you for hours can make you pay for horrifying consequences in the end.

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Take for instance the case of Ardi, a two-year-old Indonesian whose videos of puffing 40 sticks a day have gained shocking remarks from people around the globe. Ardi’s father taught him how to smoke when he was only 18 months old to relieve the pain caused by hernia. He has since become addicted to tobacco, throwing tantrums every time he doesn’t get his daily dose of nicotine.

Both Philippines and Indonesia share stern tobacco regulation laws and highly competitive tobacco industry. But unlike our country, the Indonesian government encourages even the young ones to smoke. To date, an average beginner-smoker smoker in Indonesia is seven years old, from last decade’s average of 19 years old.

What can be more dismaying than seeing even the poorest of people, opting to buy cigarettes than saving their money for food for their family instead?

Nonetheless, it’s a pity to see a government like that of Indonesia’s, encouraging smoking, which apparently is a negligence on imposing the importance of health among its people.

Quoting philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Believing we do something when we do nothing is the first illusion of tobacco.”

Though some treat smoking as an escape from a stressful day, doing the act for the sake of satisfying a temporary desire despite knowing the hazards that entail it is unreasonable. Lung disease, heart attack and premature death are just some of the negative effects brought by smoking, most especially to those exposed in second-hand smoke, who suffer deadlier consequences than those who directly inhale nicotine.

If smoking makes one satisfied after a few puffs, and some associate “satisfaction” with “happiness”, then that happiness is temporary and fallible. For happiness is pursued never for the wrong reasons, but always for the right reasons and intentions geared towards achieving a sound state of mind and body.

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I always ask my friends the same question, “Why don’t you quit?” and they answer me in plain, simple words that has always put my mouth shut, “I can’t.”

As the known anti-smoking advocate Edith Zittler puts it, the best way to stop smoking is to just stop. No ifs, ands, or buts.

I am not a smoker nor did I attempt even a puff. But from where I am standing, I have a clear view of what it can do. It can kill.

1 COMMENT

  1. this is what you call a quality article. 🙂

    keep it up, I’d like to read some more of this kind later on

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