Smokers will have their puff, even if the anti-smoking brigade tracks them down to bathrooms, bedrooms, or wherever else they go for their regular dose. Now that medicated patches, and reportedly even some chewables, are available to ease the craving, there is still a section that refuses to be weaned off the pleasure – the sheer arrogance – of holding a burning cigarette between fore-and-middle fingers, and lifting it occasionally to the lips. It is not that they cannot kick the habit, but that they will not. Birthright after all is a birth right, even if leads summarily to the grave. It is not known whether some of the most well-known exponents of the art locally, for whom the hookah had become a hallmark, have ultimately thrown in the towel, but pictures showing them lighting up even in situations of extreme confinement, would never fail to inspire those cast in the heroic mould.
But still, given the hundreds of thousands of smoking related deaths every year in the country, it is a psychological battle with long-held notions that must be won.
Of particular use could be generating a stigma against smoking, to make the act unattractive to youngsters, large numbers of whom are falling into the habit by the day. It is a question of tackling the issue with the same techniques as for promoting a product, only that the corporate wagon has to run in reverse. A beginning could be made by highlighting the blessedness of good health and the limitless possibilities of a healthy person, and blending it with the severe limitations of a victim stricken by smoking related disease. Ad gurus could go further by portraying non-smokers as those most successful with the fairer gender, and smokers among unsatisfying performers. Non-smoking could be turned into a fashion statement, one that comes without a hefty bill.