Garowe, May 22, 2019

Of all the human vices and errors I had in life: women, drinking, etc, and despite hailing from respected religious family, and on the top of my other personal weaknesses, the one sticking habit is occasional smoking cigarettes. Luckily, I am finding myself an odd man in a non-smoking society. That is how things have been changing in Somalia during past two decades. Kicking off the habit is one positive trends that has been taking root in war-torn Somalia.

Anyone lighting up in public places in Puntland nowadays would draw staring and startling look and/or contempt among those around and nearby. I wasn’t on my guard, when last night after breaking fasting in a friend’s home, went to Grand Hotel here in Garowe City, and lighted up one. I was myself alone sitting at table enjoying my cappuccino. Suddenly I saw startled faces and staring eyes around me. Momentarily, it became decision time for me to continue puffing my piece to the end or throw it immediately. While that thought trend was painfully in process in my mind, a hotel waiter came up to me to say that a bunch of customers dinning over there were requesting me to quit smoking here. I found that a bit embarrassing as an adult being told not to misbehave in public. I am learning some of my moral lessons late in life, sorry to say. I guess it is never too late to learn and grow. If others could do, I am sure everyone can also do .

Despite my bitter experience and embarrassment at Grand Hotel incident yesterday, I had felt pleasant sensation that war-torn Somalia is recovering fast as indicated by the fact that almost all smokers had quit the harmful habit here. People here are hopeful of a brighter future.

It is also gratifying to me that Somali youth are picking up neither the habit of cigarette smoking nor Chaat chewing. That is as wonderful as it is a highly positive trend in Somali society today.

A pack of cigarettes costs only one US dollar here compared to 15 in Canada, as an example. So, it is not about price that acts as a deterent in Somalia.

Smokers of the World unite to quit smoking.

Author: Warsame Digital Media WDM

About the blogger: This blog is associated with the former Chief of Staff in Puntland State Presidency, 1998-2005. He also worked with the UN and World Bank Joint Secretariat for Somalia’s Re-construction and Development Program (RDP), 2005-2006, as a Zonal Technical Coordinator for Puntland and later as National Aid Technical Coordinator with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and European Union. He is now an independent political analyst and commentator on current issues and occasionally gives historical perspective on modern Somalia’s politics. He lives and works in Toronto, Canada. He can be reached at: ismailwarsame@gmail.com

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