Beloved Nephews, Nieces, and Youth!
It has been long ago and up to the present that a great number of people smoke. As in the case of Cambodia, after the country fell into war in 1970s, youth in the whole country became hostages of war, where there were no third option for them to choose as the country already divided into two parts. One part controlled by the Lon Nol’s Government that came from the coup and another by the liberation force led by Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk. There was no middle way for us. The resistance I took at the appeal of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk made me a soldier on 4 April 1970, just days after Lon Nol’s coup on 18 March 1970 to overthrow Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk.
Joined the army, I had become a smoker started from learning to smoke to reduce work stress, mosquitoes and insects bites. Soon later, smoking became an addiction and I continued to smoke for thinking. I could recall nearly everyone in my unit smoked. My cigarette addiction had brought me to smoking leaves of papayas in replacement of tobacco when it was difficult to find any.
In between 1979 and March 2014, I did try twelve times to stop smoking. What I could remember and was ashamed of was when I promised national and foreign guests to my daughter’s wedding that I would stop smoking as soon as I had a granddaughter. I spoke in Khmer and in English. Guests applauded. Unfortunately, I could not do it. On 28 January 2000, my granddaughter was born. I could not fulfil my promise still. Not until March 2014 that I had determined to stop smoking, not only to fulfil my promise but also for my health’s sake and those of my wife, children and grandchildren. This is also in conformity with current world and Cambodian movement to reduce and stop smoking and to make Cambodia a country free of cigarette smoke.
I cannot of course instruct people to stop smoking should I continue. How could one clean other house while his was a mess? My Facebook fans asked me (about my method to quit smoking successfully). I answered them that it was a determination to stop smoking. According to my experience, I had cigarettes everywhere, in pockets, cars, electronic and true ones, gums, etc. I just did not touch it. Started from March 2014 to the present, it is already 22 months that I ceased smoking completely. In this period, I no longer flee from my grandchildren for fear that cigarette smoke would harm their health. I used to flee or kill flame of my cigarette when my grandchildren came to visit me or I visited them. My wife also does not complain of cigarette smell in the house or room anymore.
On 28 January 2016, my granddaughter turns 16 years old. My biggest present for her was that I fulfilled my promise to stop smoking. With experience of youth of the previous generation, I am calling on our people who have been smokers of cigarettes to please stop do so. Those of you, young men and women, who have not started yet, please do not learn to do so. Not only that would save you financially but also care for personal health and that of family members, friends and colleagues, community and environment that are part and parcels of public health./.