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Nothing cool about it

In the last few weeks, a very good thing seems to have happened to all of us - the ban on smoking in public places, writes Aryan Vaid.

entertainment Updated: Nov 06, 2008 20:12 IST
Aryan Vaid

In the last few weeks, a very good thing seems to have happened to all of us — the ban on smoking in public places. With due respect to all those who enjoy their cigarettes, we have to question another person’s rights, especially when it involves infringing on someone else’s health.

As we all know, passive smoking is just as dangerous as smoking. We all know the harmful effects of smoking. But still the world at large puffs away at their cigarettes.

This makes me raise some questions — Does mankind have some kind of a death wish? Or do we somehow believe in our hearts, in our own non- existent immortality? Or do we just go on living in denial?

Can’t stop
But I think, most people who smoke do so because they can’t stop. As a teenager, when the mind is like a sponge, ready to absorb everything good and bad, I remember how I had managed to steer clear of this habit.

During my college days, I used to be a studious guy. I hung out with similar kind of guys. But I remember wanting to be a part of the cool gang. The really popular guys seemed to have one thing in common — they puffed away and made it look so cool.

And at that point in my life, the only thing that mattered was popularity. So somehow, I befriended a group of really popular guys and started hanging out with them.

Well, the Mithibai college canteen had a notorious corner, known as the ‘lukha corner’. Strangely, it was considered very cool to skip classes and just hang out in that corner and smoke away to glory (literally!).

My first puff
So there I was, with my cool gang. And how could I not smoke? Came the moment for me to get my first taste of a cigarette. And I hated that first puff. I felt choked. And then there was the voice of my parents resonating in my head, telling me that I wasn’t doing the right thing.

I couldn’t silence that voice in my head or even ignore it. I simply chose not to smoke. But then, peer pressure is very serious business, especially for a wannabe cool teenager.

So I kept trying to master the act of looking cool with a cigarette in my hand. Well, finally after a few failed attempts, I stopped.

It didn’t help my popularity or cool quotient. I distinctly remember how one of those cool boys even threatened me with a social boycott. It was almost being part of a gang. Once you get in, there’s no way out.

Brash teenager
But I think even as a brash 17-year-old, I knew the difference between right and wrong. That’s the scary part. Not every teenager knows this difference. And for a lot of us, smoking starts off with us thinking that we can control this habit. And then in some time, the habit controls us and we become slaves to the stick.

Anyways, this piece is not about the harmful effects of smoking but about the dangers that exist in our society, and the choices we expect young kids to make. They don’t have the ability to weigh the options, so I was happy to hear about this ban.

It may be a micro step but indeed a step in the right direction. And yeah, every smoker will eventually agree that there’s nothing cool about it.