Campaign to deter students from taking first puff

Campaign to deter students from taking first puff

The campaign named Swatantra is a joint venture of the Indian Consulate in Dubai and a group of Indian doctors working in the emirate.

By Sajila Saseendran/senior Reporter

Published: Thu 11 Jun 2015, 12:50 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:10 PM

Photo courtesy: Corbis Images

Dubai - Peer pressure is often cited as the reason for teenagers taking their first puff. A new campaign in Dubai will target senior school students to steer peer pressure away, to prevent their schoolmates from taking the very first puff.

The campaign named Swatantra is a joint venture of the Indian Consulate in Dubai and a group of Indian doctors working in the emirate.

While Swatantra in Hindi refers to freedom, the organisers have aptly made it an acronym for Students Working against Tobacco, Alcohol, Narcotic and other Related Drugs.

The idea is to enlighten the student community to prevent young students from entering the alluring world of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs, Dr TC Satish, specialist dermatologist, Aster Medical Centre and Hospital, Dubai who conceptualised the campaign, told Khaleej Times.

“Studies have shown that 80 per cent of smokers start (the habit) while they are in school and smokers are three times more likely to take alcohol and drugs,” he said.

“It is common knowledge that most students light up for the first time to show off in front of their friends,” he pointed out.

It is at this juncture that schoolmates of a potential smoker can prevent him from taking his first puff. “Turning peer pressure in a positive way may have more influence among the youngsters than elders’ advice,” said Dr. Satish.

Dr Tiju Thomas, consul for Economic and Education, who unveiled the logo of the campaign at a recent World No Tobacco Day event organised at the Consulate, said the mission will write to Indian schools, encouraging them to run the campaign.

“Schools can form different units of senior students. Then they will be able to talk to the students in their classes and organise various activities to spread awareness about the harmful effects of using tobacco, alcohol and drugs,” he said.

Dr Satish said constant reminding of these three major evils is the only way to get people out of those bad habits. “We have also created a Swatantra badge for children that will also act as a constant reminder.”

Children taking home the message against these evils is another larger objective of the campaign.

At the anti-tobacco event in the consulate, Dr Tiju said, over 200 students took part in various competitions. A group of seven doctors explained to them the harmful effects of smoking, drinking and using drugs.

“We should not give them the image that it is something great to smoke or drink. Instead, they should realise that it is actually harmful for their health and that of others. When children realise it and tell their parents who are doing all these to quit, it will have a better impact on them for sure.”

The campaign will be rolled out in Indian schools when they reopen after summer vacation in September. Dr. Tiju said the mission will also publicise the campaign during the International Yoga Day event it will organise on June 21.

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