Just recently I visited Sri Lanka. I was quite surprised to see that hardly any of the local people smoked cigarettes. The group that smoked the most were overseas visitors.

I asked my guide “why” so few Sri Lankan’s smoked. He told me that several years ago the government had launched a campaign to shame and blame smokers and that it had been very effective. Whilst I don’t advocate such a program I wondered why their quit smoking campaign had been so effective.

The only thing that seemed logical was the culture of the people and the country. The government is listened to and it has a lot of influence. Having said that I also found tobacco freely available in the markets. This tobacco was not in the form of cigarettes but was sold as chewing tobacco.

On closer inspection I saw people chewing tobacco rather than smoking cigarettes, but it still was not a common practice. By the way chewing tobacco has as many, if not more, harmful effects from nicotine as smoking does.
It seems that wherever I go in the world there is a campaign to stop smoking. People overall realise that it is not a habit that goes hand in hand with good health. I don’t believe, however, in campaigns that force people to quit smoking. I’d rather have people come to the realisation that smoking is harming them and that they want to stop smoking. Even smokers should have the freedom to choose to quit smoking for themselves.

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