Vol. 5 Num 295 Sat. March 26, 2005  
Letters to Editor

Helping the smokers to quit

Bangladesh recently joined the rank of few nations that have legally prohibited smoking in public. The idea is to curb tobacco addiction, one of the major preventable causes of morbidity in the world. To make this investment in public health to really work, we must also make sure to support the existing smokers. It is not easy to quit smoking. We must understand that many smokers are addicted to nicotine. Like other addictions without the treatment the withdrawal reactions of nicotine will eventually precipitate intense craving and recidivism. That is why many smokers fail to quit even when they are well aware of harm. The popular myth that says "your will is enough to quit" is not true for too many of the smokers. Many of the smokers are actually very strong willed, socially active and responsible human beings. Many of our friends and family members are smokers. Fearing punitive measures many of these smokers will continue to smoke indoors and put the health of family members more at risk. And those who can't smoke in home may even discover safe niches from law, where in some cases, they may be exposed to other kinds of addiction. These are the dangers we must keep in our mind.

To fight such scenario it is necessary to initiate widespread educational campaign and provide adequate support for smokers to quit. The support to quit smoking involves behavioral counseling, pharmacotherapy (like nicotine replacement therapy or bupropion) and other support services. It is now time for our health service personnel and different NGOs who are working with drug addiction and rehabilitation to take the step forward to make use of recent knowledge and help our smokers with their choices to quit.