Thai Rock Band Urge Youth to stay away from Cigarettes. By Jittima Jantanamalaka

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A Thai Rock Band group by the name of Mulatto is really creating waves these days in Thailand. It can really be called a smoke free and environment friendly band, as all its members are non smokers. They come from different backgrounds but all have one thing in common – none of them ever liked the smell of cigarettes. It always made them feel dizzy, and not euphoric, as their music does.
Rock band members are generally supposed to be ‘cool guys’ and are very often role models of the youngsters. Well the four members of this band are musicians with a mission --- the mission to spread awareness about the lethal hazards.
Despite growing up in a society which thrives on cigarettes, they have shunned this evil since their childhood. They were drawn to music instead since early childhood.
The singing voice of the band, Nat Sonkasertrin (M), was brought up in a slum, which abounded with smokers. Yet from his early childhood he decided not to smoke as the cigarette smoke always irritated his eyes and throat.
His father was a confirmed smoker; puffing away two packs a day, since the age of sixteen. By the time he was 50 years old, he developed lung cancer and has been cut off one of his lung. His sufferings proved to be a blessing in disguise for his son M, who vowed never to light a cigarette.
Ton, the drummer had childhood friends who smoked. Once, one of his friends was injured, along with many others due to an accident caused by smoking.
This year on ‘World No Tobacco Day’, the WHO has focused its attention on pictorial health warnings on tobacco packs, even as 5।4 million people worldwide continue to be snapped down by preventable diseases caused by smoking. In fact, this year the ‘Action On Smoking and Health Foundation’ (ASH) from Thailand was awarded internationally for its efforts in enforcing pictorial warnings on cigarette packs. Yet, according to the Ministry of Health Thailand, the country has 9.5 million smokers, out of which 1.27 million are youths. Increasing the price of cigarettes too has not been much of a deterrent. But perhaps gory pictures on cigarette packs will have more profound effect on the smokers’ psyche.
Bands like Mulatto can really act as brand ambassadors for anti smoking campaigns. Its members mince no words when they compare cigarettes to narcotics and one of them feels that smoking should be made illegal. Despite the high risks involved, adolescents continue to be drawn to smoking, sometimes due to peer pressure and sometimes to simply make a fashion statement, thinking it is cool to smoke. Movie stars shown smoking in films, (like the one named 2499, about Thai mafia) add fuel to the desire of smoking, as the youth always try to emulate them.
Mulatto carries its message to all its concert shows, asking the young audience, in a very subtle way to quit smoking. Rather than condemn or force, they talk to them with sincerity. They tell them, ‘We care about you and we love you. So for the sake of friendship please do not smoke.’ Beautiful thoughts indeed! Since they are in a very cool and happening profession, their abstinence at once awes and inspires their audience.
Let us hope on this No Tobacco Day that there will be more such dedicated artists, urging people to make music instead of smoke.

[The author is the Director of Jay Inspire, Thailand]

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