‘This is very unbelievable, how can a mother be smoking near her children?’ thought Kahill as she walked passed her neighbour’s compound. She shaked her head and walked by, tradition dedicates never to interfere in other people’s business.
But Kahill was not the kind to keep quiet, she had been nursing a sick nephew suffering from cancer and everytime she saw him suffering she thought of all the people who just smoke for themselves without any consideration of other people around them.
With that pain and the young children not older than 7 and 10 years playing around their mother, who was busy enjoying her cigarettes made her heart hurt. ‘But why?’ she asked herself. ‘why would a mother do that to her children?’
She walked back to her neighbour’s compound, ‘Good afternoon Milly,’ she greeted. ‘ how are your and the children?’ At this time little Micheal and Princess were running towards her and shouting ‘Aunty Patrisha’. She hugged them both. Carried little Micheal and walked towards the house where the children’s mother was sitting.
Still smoking, Milly greeted back and offered Kahill a stool, Kahill took to the floor.
‘Hey, can you put out your cigarette I want to talk to you for a minute? asked Kahill. The mother did as she was asked and Kahill started her lecture about smoking around children.
‘Why do you hate your children? Why do you smoke? Why do you smoke around your children? Why do you expose your children to chemicals in cigarettes? Why do you do that to them?’ the question came out of her mouth like bullets.
With no chance given to the mother to reply back, Kahill went on, ‘ I know you have problems, thoughts and maybe you are an addict, but your children are not . They shouldn’t suffer because of your stupidity. These are innocent babies who deserve a smoke free home. Nicotine and all the other chemicals are very harmful to their health and with that I mean their lungs’
With shock in her voice, Milly said ‘I didn’t know, I thought it only affects me alone. Not my children.’
‘Yes, it does. When you smoke in front of your children or your friends, it is called Second Hand smoking and it is very dangerous to those around you. Here is how;’ said Kahill.
It may seem pretty harmless, but secondhand smoke actually contains thousands of chemicals — from arsenic and ammonia to hydrogen cyanide many of which have been proven to be toxic or to cause cancer (called carcinogens). High concentrations of many of these chemicals are found in secondhand smoke.
In fact, secondhand smoke significantly increases a person’s risk for:
- respiratory infections (like bronchitis and pneumonia)
- asthma (secondhand smoke is a risk factor for the development of asthma and can trigger attacks in those who already have it)
- coughing, sore throats, sniffling, and sneezing
- heart disease
So secondhand smoke doesn’t just impact a person in the future. It can cause problems right now, like affecting someone’s sports performance or ability to be physically active
‘So if you want to smoke, take all you smoke breaks outside away from the kids and anyone else for that matter even your husband. Smoke lingers in the air hours after cigarettes are put out. That means if you are puffing away anywhere inside, other people are inhaling that smoke, too. Also you should know that smoke sticks to clothing, so when you are done smoking you should wash your hands and change your clothes before holding or hugging the children.’ Kahill lectured.
Due to the above experience, Kahill thought why not share the same insights on a blog and let others know after all there is a no campaign in Uganda about Tobacco Control asking for Smoke free zones and protection of non smokers from smokers. Just as a person who smokes chooses to light up, nonsmokers have a choice, too to walk away from other people’s smoke at home, school, work, restaurants, even friends’ and family members’ houses.
Taking a stand on secondhand smoking in her neighbourhood made Kahill feel proud and responsible for her and others health. What are you doing to reduce/stop the effects of tobacco smoking in your community?
There is a petition Kahill signed on this website No2Tobacco.ug, you can also sign it takes 1 minute.