It is not a genocide that will kill Kurds, nor is it Baghdad or any other neighbouring country. It is not chemical weapons that might destroy our future generation and trust me, not terrorists either. Our youth, girls and boys equally, are at risk of being killed by one thing: Tobacco (oh, and maybe driving).
Smoking cigarretes aside, hookah is now an emmerging fashion statement among women, and a lifestyle addiction to the bulk of males in their twenties– and earlier.
I have a problem. A serious one too. I am strong anti-smoking advocate. It’s an issue that touches my bones and boils my blood. Not just because I am very sensitive to the smoke, but the carelessness of some society members when it comes to smoking reveals a lot about where we are heading in the near future…
This year is the year of law of attraction for me, and this is probably why I seem to experience the most annoying smoking encounters (it’s always on my mind), here are a few of my torturous experiences:
- I often take my toddler to a playground in the neighbourhood or in the park. On the benches around the playground there are always kids smoking. Yes kids as young as 8 and 9. At one point I walked all the way to the security at the entrance of the park to tell him there are kids smoking in the playground only to see him with a cigarette. I turned to another young man in uniform, also security at the Park. “Kaka, these nine year olds are smoking around the other kids, there are a group of around seven kids, all smoking there.” He didn’t care. Not one bit. I looked so foolish. I decided to go and talk to them myself.
- When my son was a newborn I would sit somewhere, the people in the table next to me can see I have a baby, but who cares, they decide to smoke. If this wasn’t enough, to blow out the ridiculous smoke from their mouths (or noses?) they wouldn’t turn their heads, they blew out their cancer-causing toxins in my and my sons direction. I am not exaggerating. This actually happened. You feel like screaming “I have a baby with me!!!!” then again, my fault for even going out for fresh air with my newborn. I should be the one apologising.
3. Rewind a few months before that when I was a good eight months pregnant (hard to miss that with a 150cm height) I would sit with a group of people and the person across the table starts smoking, in my face! Without even asking if they could (not that I would ever say “yes you can smoke and my yet to be born child can also inhale it“), at least respect me and ask for my permission to be a passive smoker. ARGH!
4. More recently I heard a lot about this new Organic restaurant in Erbil, it’s the latest craze so I thought we should try it. While looking for parking I couldn’t even see inside properly from all the smoke…fogginess caused by the Argeela (Hookah? Nargeela? Whatever it’s called. Pictured below). So much for wanting to have a healthy meal. I prefer an oily 7 000 calorie burger any day over inhaling toxic while suffocating as I eat a so-called “healthy” meal.
5. My food court eating and resting experiences in all the malls in Erbil are ones of torture as well. I don’t remember the last time I sat comfortably at a food court after a walk in the mall. Every person on every table is smoking and who cares about the no-smoking signs.
6. On the note of no smoking signs, we had a youth camp in one of the governmental youth facilities in the Region. It was a very lovely place, and a huge investment. I loved that inside it was full of ‘no smoking’ signs. Despite the fact that the member of staff giving us a tour was smoking. I brought his attention to the sign by making a joke, he laughed “I put those signs up!” and continued smoking. So, apparently if you put the no smoking sign up then you’re dismissed from the rule. Seriously?
7. Have you tried getting into the lift where the person who got in prior to you was smoking? It happens to me every time. IN A LIFT! With a no-smoking sign.
8. My list can go on, but I will make this the last point. I promise. Places that have no-smoking areas I highly respect, but for those who are sensitive to smoking (like myself) we can still smell and inhale the smoke…five meters doesn’t make a difference. There is a new trend in a few places where in the morning the place is smoke-free and in the evening smoking is welcome. What’s the logic behind that?
I have so many more stories to share which explains why I hibernate at home and make my own tea most of the time. I only have a few options of places that are entirely smoke free: Second Cup, Costa… and I think that’s it?
Now don’t misunderstand me. Some of my very close friends smoke (and they know very well where I stand when it comes to this issue), I am not forcing anyone to stop but your freedom stops when it interferes with mine. Guess what? you’re smoking in my presence contaminates the oxygen that I breathe in, that my friend interferes in my freedom to breatheeeeeeeee.
It’s smokers who should suffer in public finding the right place to smoke, not non-smokers!
Have you tried having a discussion about smoking with smokers? Don’t even get me started on that one.
I blame family members, the government, public institutions and every business in the Region. If every single person felt responsible for this then society wouldn’t go in this direction. For the sake of money we put the healthy of our people at risk, we encourage and embrace acts that are not just unhealthy but make others uncomfortable and put our kids at great risk. These are habits that need to be educated in schools and if not addressed now smoking will be the next big killer in 10, 20 years time.
I am ready for any campaign to help address this, though I know very well we need target the roots of this matter, and if we don’t start now my kids and your kids are at great risk.
Oh, and we lack positive role models, when doctors in our country are the heaviest smokers then who am I to talk?
Lots of love from
My Nest in Kurdistan