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Do you fear your child will take to smoking? 

The best time to stop your teenager from smoking is before he or she starts it. Here is a story that shows how the shrewd advocates of smoking can influence young minds. And how you must protect your young one from such influences.

Many parents fear that their children would take to smoking in the future. They dread the possibility of catching their young ones smoking on the sly.  However, mere fear does not solve the problem. Parents need to realize effective methods that will stop their children from getting into the smoking habit. Most importantly, they must make concerted efforts to keep the impressionable minds away from the influence of the strong advocates of smoking.  These advocates tend to rationalize the smoking habit in the name of individual freedom. Or worse, they popularize tobacco as a fashion statement. Beware. A historic controversy over smoking, that took place in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar (1556-1605) may provide a clue.

Take a clue

Asad Baig, a nobleman in Emperor Akbar's courtroom, once presented a costly hookah to His Majesty. He requested the emperor to try it. Akbar had seen tobacco (Nicotina Tabacum) when a physician had brought it from Mecca in the late 16th century. Although Akbar had not tried it then, he thought of doing so now. But, the court physician intervened. The king took the warning lightly, and smoked the hookah twice. But soon another physician objected to the hookah. That set Akbar's inquisitive mind thinking. He decided to solve the problem by discussion.

The king sent for the physician who had earlier recommended tobacco from Mecca. The old man admitted that the medical books of the times did not include tobacco, but added that it caused no harm because the Europeans used it. Although the royal physician opposed this extreme view, Asad Baig put his case forward, "European rulers and aristocrats will not smoke before testing the properties of tobacco. They have wise men among them who seldom make mistakes.'"

While many in Akbar's court opposed the blind faith in European thinking, Baig continued arguing, "Whenever anything new is being introduced, the local populace opposes it, without knowing much about it. For instance, China-root herb is not mentioned in our holy medical books. But did we discard it just because of that reason?" The unorthodox and neutral Akbar was impressed with the argument. He gave a judgment in Baig's favor. Baig proved smart enough to sell the tobacco concept to the liberal king. He was successful in promoting tobacco in the Mughal era. While successive emperors did impose prohibition, smokers continued to multiply. Tobacco cultivation spread far and wide in various parts of India. In Shah Jahan's time, tobacco became a major revenue earner.

Never let your child get influenced by Asad Baigs

The main point in the story is to see how tobacco triumphed in the battle between advocates of smoking and non-smoking. Every parent has to take precautions to keep the Asad Baig influence away from their impressionable and young kids. There are many Asad Baigs, even today around your teenage child, who rationalize smoking. These advocates claim that smoking does not necessarily pose health hazards. They also associate smoking with intellectual activities like reading, writing and research. Every parent must not let the child absorb the Asad Baig logic!! You, as a parent, should be able to reason out the ill effects of smoking. And never let the child smoke under the pretext of individual liberty. Never mind even if you are called a dictator.

Provide a role model

Parents should generally avoid smoking before their young ones. Many families do not recognize smoking as a taboo subject. However, constant smoking in the company of young ones might attract young minds to the lure of tobacco. Therefore, avoid smoking in family situations, and that will of course save your family from passive smoking.

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