Smoking in Egypt: know the facts, dispel the myths
Ingy Deif, Monday 21 Nov 2011
In Egypt despite the staggering economy and deteriorating health standards and intense pollution, smoking is on the rise. Understanding what is at stake could help kick the habit


According to the Egyptian Anti-smoking Network, a nonprofit organisation aiming to raise awareness and shed more light on the facts and hazards surrounding the use of tobacco, the number of smokers in Egypt has sky-rocketed to ten million. Each smoker spends around LE110 to feed their habit, totalling up to LE11 billion per year: quite a sum in a staggering economy and considering cigarettes much cheaper in Egypt than abroad.

The numbers might mean not so much to those who value their habit over their pay cheque, but there is more to the importance of quitting smoking than just saving money.

According World Health Organisation, almost 5.5 million lives are lost annually to smoking. Their 2003 statistics reveal that 317,812 males and 266,126 females in Egypt lost their lives that year due to tobacco-related illnesses.

Dispelling the myths

"It is of utmost importance to understand that smokers are deluded by many misconceptions, and unraveling the myths is the first step towards breaking the habit," asserts Dr Abdel Hadi Mesbah, Professor of Immunology and fellow of The American Academy of Immunology, who lists those misconceptions as follows:

Smoking makes you calmer, the so-claimed-soothing effect is just an instant result of the induction of nicotine into your system that actually leaves you weakened and dependant on that substance. Scientifically, nicotine is not a calming or sedating substance. On the contrary, it increases the level of blood pressure, heart palpitations and the level of adrenalin, which can make you actually more tense and nervous, rather than calm. Furthermore, it is a fact that those who kicked the habit actually feel a lot calmer after the initial withdrawal weeks.

Smoking increases concentration at work: although the drawback effect of quitting tobacco can affect the concentration a bit at the beginning, it is a scientific fact that smoking blocks the passage of oxygen to the brain, affecting judgment and concentration. Statistically, most car crashes occur when the driver is smoking - and that’s why many insurance companies in the West refrain from paying the amount due to a person if it can ben proven that they were smoking during the accident.

A low-nicotine and tar-level cigarette is better: This is a psychological trick. In the end, you inhale faster and deeper to feed your addiction, and actually results in you inhaling almost the same amount of nicotine. Moreover, these kinds of cigarettes emit a higher level of poisonous carbon monoxide when they burn.

If I quit I will get fat. It had never been proven, scientifically, that a link exists between both. What has been noted is that people who start to quit develop a craving for food and desserts as a sub-conscious substitute for the pleasure of smoking, thus they gain weight. Just don’t eat more!

Dr Mesbah emphasises that every day examples prove that it is a lifestyle choice worth the initial irritation. For those questioning the added value of letting go what is supposed to be a form of pleasure, this list might boost your willpower:

· If you want to be a parent, letting go of the cigarette increases your fertility by a lot and improves the chances of having a sound pregnancy and a healthy baby.

· If you're already a parent, you will be reducing the probability of your kids having asthma; don’t add second-hand smoke to the currently unavoidable evil of the highest pollution rate in the world. Your children need to thrive.

· If you just want to be just a healthy person, getting rid of the cigarette will reduce chances of developing dementia as you grow older. Likewise, it will lessen the risks of fatal smoking-related diseases that affect the heart and the lung, among which is cancer.

· If you want to be a lovely lady or a charming man, indulge in the joy of no longer smelling of smoke, feeling the tangible improvement in the texture of your skin and the colour of your teeth. You can whiten your smile once you've kicked the smoking habit and maintain a beautiful, confident smile for the rest of your life.

· If you want improve the quality of life, get rid of the cigarette. Save that money for better treats! Enjoy the bliss of being able to breathe better and smoother and even tasting food better!



Your alternatives to letting go!

Although the decision to conquer this habit proves increasingly difficult for some people, it is never too late to give it another try. Sheer will and stamina is one way to go, but there are a myriad of auxiliary devices, which include special kinds of gums and nicotine patches, prescription drugs, or even resorting to new electric cigarettes that mimics the psychological feel of the cigarette.

These electronic cigarettes use liquid glycerine and tobacco, can come in all flavours (including your favourte cigarette brand) and emit an eco-friendly steam. This is a smart and very chic-looking invention recently take up by those who want to break the habit by storm.

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