Raising awareness about the dangers of tobacco use, the UNO Baku team visited ADA University on 30 May to hold an information session with ADA’s No Smoking Club and representatives of Common Sense Youth Organization (CSYO) on the effects of tobacco use and the various methods of fighting tobacco consumption. The event was attended by students from various universities and challenged currently smoking participants to give up the habit.
The UNO Baku team opened the meeting with a presentation prepared by the WHO office in Azerbaijan on the negative effects of tobacco use on personal and societal health. The presentation also included facts and figures concerning the most dangerous diseases linked to tobacco use, such as cancer, heart disease, depression and diabetes. During the course of the presentation, Malahat Ibrahimova, a member of the UNO Baku team, discussed the WHO framework: a set of guidelines for governments and other agencies interested in limiting tobacco use and avoiding its negative side effects, saying “raising taxes on tobacco sales – which is this year’s theme for No Tobacco Day – and prohibiting tobacco consumption in public places are probably the most effective regulations, as they take immediate effect on public life”.
Later, the ADA University No Tobacco Club shared their own experiences with fighting tobacco use on campus. One of their activities included offering smokers Raffaello chocolates in exchange for extinguishing and discarding their cigarettes. Group leader, Turana Gasimova, stated that, “Though we later saw some of the same students smoking on campus, we felt confident that we had made our message clear. We could tell from the guilt on these students’ faces that they understood the harm they were doing to themselves and to others around them.”
“Smoking was exciting in the beginning, but when I smoked at least one pack a day, it began to take serious effects on my health”, said a student of Azerbaijan’s State Oil Academy, who described his own experience with quitting smoking and how he managed to succeed. When asked about the largest obstacle he encountered while quitting, he claimed that, “my friends that smoke and the other smokers around me were the biggest part of the problem. In the beginning, I had to distance myself from them and learn to control myself before I was able to be around them again.”He later stated that the initial phase of quitting smoking is, in itself, not very difficult, rather – it is the ability to resist temptation throughout the later stages that is a more trying.
At the end of the session, students and representatives of CSYO thanked the UNDPI team for visiting and organizing the event. Ramiz Aliyev, chairman of CSYO, said, “It is precisely events such as these, and organizations such as the United Nations, that allows us to carry our mission forward. I’d also like to extend my gratitude to ADA University for hosting this event, as we look forward to further cooperation in the future.”