Growing up in Zimbabwe, I did not realize how prevalent smoking was until I moved to the diaspora. This harmful habit affects our brothers disproportionately to our sisters, because a woman holding a cigarette, especially in certain generations, is still greatly frowned upon.
A few short years after moving to the diaspora, smoking was banned in public places, particularly restaurants and airplanes. After many years of living in a smoke free environment, and being a mother with young ones to worry about, I am now hyper-aware of being around cigarette smoke. I am grateful for the laws and the growing culture that prevents cigarette smoke accidentally wandering my way.
I realize that smoking is a hard habit to kick. Those of you in the diaspora have a lot of resources, many of them free, to help you. Those of you back home will have to rely on your own inner resources and knowledge of the dangers of smoking to help you quit.
Write down the following dangers on a small piece of paper and stick them in your wallet, on your bathroom mirror at home, at your desk in the office, on the dashboard or steering wheel of your car, or all of the above places. The reason is we all know the dangers of smoking, but like to conveniently pretend it won’t affect us when we light up.
- 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men, and 80% in women are caused by smoking.
- Smoking increases a man’s chance of developing cancer by 23 times and a woman’s 13 times.
- Smoking doubles and can even quadruple your chance of heart disease and stroke.
- Smokers are more susceptible to high blood pressure.
- Smoking increases your chance of dying from an obstructive lung disease such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis by up to 13 times.
- Smoking also can cause 11 other kinds of cancer.
- Smoking can cause infertility, preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) – which is why it is critical to never smoke in your house if you are married to a non-smoking spouse and never around your children, not even outdoors. Second-hand smoke kills too! Also be considerate of your co-workers and move away from pregnant women or people with children if you are smoking in a public place.
- Smoking clouds your thinking, and can actually increase stress levels in between cigarettes, once the nicotine high has worn off.
- Smoking makes you ugly – yes, I said it. It accelerates visible signs of aging, causes yellowing of the teeth, blotchiness of the skin, increases wrinkling of the skin, causes bad breath and lingering odors on your clothes, in your car, possibly in your house and on other possesions.
So please gentlemen, protect yourselves and your loved ones and really work on kicking the habit in 2014. Replacing smoking with any one of the good habits we have mentioned in this blog over the years would be a great boon to your health and longevity, and likely a relief to those you live amongst and work with daily.
*To visit the Elizabeth Chanakira Cancer Trust and find out about the work we do with marginalized cancer patients in Zimbabwe click here.