Kurt Lewin in 1936 gave a very simple formula an equation which said behaviour is a function of the person in the environment. What it means is the habit or behaviour of a person is just not dependent on a person’s character but it also depends on the environment one is exposed to.

This is very much true with tobacco also whether it is smoking or chewing.

Let us see an example – the beginning of tobacco depends very much on the person but also the environment he or she is exposed to at home or at the school or college. If someone at home takes tobacco whether chewing or smoking (a very common at home in north India is hukkah), one is likely to start tobacco.

During my medical study, the hostel was divided into multiple wings. I would talk about two wings the one in which I stayed. Another wing left to our wing. In the other wing stayed a boy, Sidhu (name changed) who was addicted to tobacco from school itself. Sidhu was a very social person and from a well to do family. He would often organise parties and go for movies and each time he would take someone along with him. By the end of 3 months, almost 50% of his friends were chewing tobacco. By the end of our MBBS almost everyone in the wing where into smoking and chewing tobacco.

But in the hostel wing I stayed, our seniors never promoted and were strict about tobacco consumption. No one in this wing ever took to this habit thankfully.

All of us have come through the entrance examination, studied hard have become doctors and into various speciality, but due to the environment, took to various habits. We cannot say that all of them had a weak will power. Environment affected them too!

It is for us as parents, seniors, teachers to guide our next generation in the right direction, we should be aware of the environment – the friend circle. I specifically tell children not to be associated with anyone who takes tobacco. However strong the child would be, their will power would get overwhelmed at some point in time only because of the environment with which they are associated with. Young minds are very easy to entice and lured to what is not good for them.

The other thing that I want to convey is that if anyone of your friends or colleagues is into tobacco, let us be good influencers on them. Help them get rid of the disease. We should not fall prey to this habit but let them adopt our good habit. If we hide or lie we cannot help them. They are into a wrong habit and we should help before the early signs of tobacco harm sets in. The advance harms are really dangerous and fatal.

The book WIN OVER TOBACCO MADE EASY would be of help. Visit the tobacco wellness centres.

A word of caution – the teachers, school counsellors, parents should be aware how to deal with such situation. I will talk about it in my subsequent blogs.