Monday, 06 December 2021 09:49 GMT

UAE- Sharjah teenager on a solo mission to make people give up smoking

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) A Sharjah student is on a mission to get residents to give up smoking with her "Quit to Care" campaign.

Sreelakshmi Satyan, 15, was encouraged to carry out this campaign after listening to a story of a cancer survivor and after her own grandfather, who was a passive smoker, died from lung cancer.

Satyan, from India, has been placing "quit smoking" posters in various shops and restaurants around Sharjah to spread her message.

"I just want to create awareness among public about the adverse effects of smoking and use of tobacco products," Satyan told Khaleej Times.

"I know that it is not so simple but through continuous awareness programmes, at least one per cent might think about quitting the bad habit."

Her campaign includes awareness speeches, flyer distribution and surveys and she also asks residents to take a pledge not to smoke again. In the survey, Satyan asks participants about their lifestyle and if they or anyone they know smoke. She also used to send e-mails to her contacts, highlighting the adverse effects of tobacco usage.

"I make small posters to place them in shops, groceries, studios, stationery shops, small restaurants and cafeterias. I talk to the people in these shops and request them to keep the posters there so that customers can see them too," she said. "And I feel happy when I see that the posters are still there in some of the shops after a few weeks or months."

She started this campaign in May, 2016, in commemoration of World No Tobacco Day and was initially inspired with the idea after she attended a seminar on cancer and heard stories from a cancer survivor.

"The seminar was really an eye opener and then I came to realise that cancer is a curable disease, like any other disease if taken proper treatment and to an extend many type of cancers could be avoided if we change our life style," she said. "Doctor has explained that lung cancer is not able to detect in the early stage, and smoking is identified as the leading cause of cancer and death from cancer."

However, it wasn't until Satyan's own grandfather passed away from lung cancer that she started to take her campaign "seriously".

"He was identified with lung cancer at the age of 51 (sad to note that when it was identified, it was developed to the last stage). Even though surgery was done for one of his lungs, he did not survive," Satyan said.

"He was just 51 and a very active working man. Every body was surprised how he had lung cancer. But now I understood, he was a passive smoker.

"In the older days, there was no separate place for smokers. It (smoking) was treated as status symbol, hence, people used to smoke even when they are working in an office or people who were visiting. I came to know, that lung cancer is very difficult to identify and there won't be any symptoms for it till the last stage."

Satyan hopes her campaign will influence residents to give up smoking. She will continue her campaign and is looking to use the data she has gathered from her survey to come up with further creative ways to get her voice heard - all in hopes that people will stop the bad habit.

Sample questions in the survey >Do you think tobacco products to be banned globally?

>Do you know the adverse effects of using tobacco products?

>Do you know smoking is the major cause for lung cancer deaths?

>Do you know passive smokers are at more risk?

>Do you or any other person who smoke?

Tips to quit smoking Dr Annette Schonder, a consultant in psychotherapy at Clinic for Health and Medical Care, shared these tips to help smokers on their journey of quitting smoking:

> Drink lots of water

> Find a replacement behaviour, for example sugar free mints

> Make sure you take breaks and regular intervals

> Manage stress with exercise

> Get enough sleep (seven to eight hours)

> Avoid being around cigarettes for the fist seven days if possible

> Write a list of what you are giving up versus what you are gaining from quitting

> Remember, a craving is just a thought! We do not have to act on it. It will pass

KT Nano Edit Adopt healthier habits

If a 15-year-old can understand the ill effects of smoking, adults should definitely, too. Smoking corrodes lungs, leads to cancer, and also affects non-smokers. But for close to a billion people globally who indulge in active smoking, ignorance is bliss. They continue to puff on their pipes as if there is no tomorrow. It's a shame that a young student had to take up the baton to raise awareness and spread the message. The onus is now on smokers to give up and adopt healthier habits.


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