For National Health week we looked at how Kick Butt’s anti-smoking campaign was helping students give up smoking.
Muhammed Morad is 20 years old and a recidivist: an ex-smoker who had been clean for six months. The addiction got him back just because his fridge was empty. National Health Week changed his mind about smoking.
Giving up is not easy, especially when a whole industry tries everything to “make the young and stupid buy their tobacco.”
“This is going to be my last cigarette,” Muhammed announced, throwing away the stub. The 20-year-old, who studies pharmaceutical science in a foundation year, has just seen a picture of himself, aged 70. His face has a strong grey complexion and the supple look is replaced by a leathery layer.
This process happens naturally as people age, but it is speeded up by the 4,800 chemicals, all in one cigarette. Among them are mothballs, car fumes, embalming fluid, petrol fumes and vinegar. These are just the ingredients to make a cigarette tasty. Nicotine is what it makes it addictive. What smokers don’t know: it is as addictive as heroin.
Kick Butt smoking prevention service
Kara Smith, NHS health adviser, knows that showing people the ingredients is not enough.She said they needed to realise that this fluid tar cloth in their lungs is created by 70 per cent of the inhaled smoke.
Part of the Kick Butt treatment, financed by the NHS, are tests with a carbon monoxide monitor, indicating a light or heavy smoker, and a nicotine replacement therapy which offers alternatives, such as nasal sprays or patches.
Peer pressure and stress
“The British American Tobacco is harsh but honest,” said Mary Olufiade from Kick Butt, “They say: ‘We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and the stupid.’”
This only underlines that the industry is more interested in the consumer’s money than their health. Marketing experts know exactly how and where to grab the people: at their weakest points – peer pressure and the struggle with stress.
As a smoking prevention advisor Ms Olufiade visits schools and colleges showing them how tobacco companies work.
“You have to make them ask why they smoke and who made them. The more angry people become over the companies’ aims the more they realise that smoking doesn’t make them cool or relaxed; it makes them a victim of the industry,” the advisor said.
It’s not your body longing for it, it’s your head.
Muhammed decided to stop when he had to rest after running only five minutes. His heart raced quicker and he began to feel dizzy.
“Kick Butt’s treatment will hopefully help me to overcome this stupid addiction. My body does not need tar and car fumes. I need to switch off the voice in my head,” said the student, who plans a career in neurobiology.
Next week, he will join the university’s swimming team, which gives him an actual deadline to quit smoking.