By Lonjezo Idrissa
In a country like Malawi, some people get initiated to tobacco smoking at a very tender age, some as young as 10 years old. As they grow up, the behavior continues, this makes them to grow addiction over time. Other people reach the extent of smoking more than four or five times a day when they become addicted, you would find one grabbing a cigarette as he or she wakes up in the morning, soon after meals and sometimes wakes up from sleep at night.
Because of addiction, some smokers are tempted to consume tobacco cigarettes anywhere when they crave including in public places like botanical gardens, parks, depots, streets, homes, offices and in buses, putting a burden on non-smokers, children and people who suffer from asthma.
Mythically, there are some students in Malawi colleges and universities such as the University of Malawi, Mzuzu University, Malawi College of Accountancy, just to mention a few, who believe that smoking tobacco makes them to feel energised, forget their problems, stay focussed and be active in class.
Furthermore, it has been observed that some pupils and students in primary schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities get initiated to smoking with an intention to fit into their friend’s zones and to feel grown up, they do what they can to learn how to smoke just to impress and keep their friends.
The media has also played a role in making the youth attracted to the habit of smoking, there are some movies that depict actors and actresses smoking cigarettes, musical artists smoking in their music videos of which most of them are the youth’s role models. When the youths see their role models on the television smoking, they get an impression that it is a standard behavior and they start to act like their role models. Listening to songs that contain lyrics that praise smoking is also another cause, this influence some young people and they do think that it is very attractive to smoke.
Other young people start smoking when they hang around with older people who smoke. The more the young people grows up seeing their adults smoking, the more they start seeing smoking as a normal thing and a good habit. Studies have shown that if a parent smokes, kids are more likely to become smokers.
Again, there are a lot of youths who are unemployed, have sports and other recreation activities, as a results, a some of the youths end up into habit of smoking tobacco, alcohol consumption and drug/ substance abuse.
The behavior of smoking tobacco has resulted into many negative effects on many lives of people socially, mentally and psychologically. Firstly, smoking among the youths consequently makes them to start indulging into other immoral behavior such as smoking marijuana, alcohol consumption and abuse of drug and substance.
Smoking cigarettes has ruined some peoples’ educational journey as it can make students to lose focus on their studies, as a result, they perform poorly in class, and sometimes they get withdrawn from the school on moral or academic grounds.
Both in private and public colleges and universities, smoking behaviour is very problematic and one of the long term problems in most school campuses where you will find out that there will be smokers and non-smokers inside the same hostels. Those who don’t smoke tend to suffer a lot from the smoke of the tobacco when smokers are smoking inside the rooms.
All in all, it has been a song for years now and we are tired of listening to it in the country that the government of Malawi is going to end smoking in collaboration with other health organizations like World Health organization (WHO). By establishing and implementing laws that regulate tobacco production and consumption will help to reduce the number of cases of people dying from diseases caused by tobacco smoke despite Malawi being one of the world’s main tobacco growers. Additionally, there are a number of preventable ways of smoking such as banning most forms of smoking promotions on social media, and making smoking less attractive to people by including TV shows and radio programs that depicts the dangers of smoking tobacco to help the youths to know the dangers of such acts and again concentrate on their education.