Soumia Zarouf, Tangier- Students seek refuge in smoking without knowing that they are heading towards a danger zone.
With the absence of precise and accurate statistics about kids smoking in Tangier, The Moroccan Association for the fight against smoking and drugs revealed in the last study that 13 percent of smokers in Morocco are under 15 years of age, which is about a half million of children in the country. The same association showed that about 18 percent of young people aged between 15 and above smoke.
The phenomenon: denial and acknowledgement
At approximately 3 PM, it was time for Adil, Brahim, and others to join their classes at High School. In one of the buildings of the schoolstood the principal, Mohamed, who did not hesitate to say that smoking among students, is so rare and almost non-existent. “The reason is the fact that the students are coming from conservative and simple families” explained the principal.
Fatima Z., a teacher and a coordinator of health /environmental club “ASSAWSAN” at the same establishment had another point of view “Smoking rate among students is increasing dramatically for both boys and girls”. “I can go further and say that now girls smoke more than boys,” she added.
“I tried to give up smoking many time but I couldn’t”
Faced with these two contradictory statements, students were theonlywayto find out the truth. All students I have talked to confirmed that many students smoke either publicly or secretly in bathrooms. At first talking to a student who smokes was an impossible mission; however, a simple explanation about what I want made them change their mind.
Brahim, with a smile on his face, was the first one to talk. According to him, the percentage of smokers at the high school is increasing dramatically day after day. “I started smoking because I was curious, and I wanted to try something new and different” explained Brahim.
“I tried to give up smoking many times but I couldn’t, maybe because I don’t have a strong will yet,” Brahim Said.
In a spontaneous way, Morad, asenior high school student, preferred to talk to me alone. “I started smoking when I was 14 years old because of the problems I had in my family due to the regular absence of my father who lives abroad.”
Morad couldn’t help but blaming school as a major reason behind this phenomenon “here-at school- we are free to attend classes or not, students’ absence is not taken into account; therefore, instead of attending classes we go out and smoke” he said.
“Now everything is readily accessible at school, not only cigarette but also Hashish, Qarqoubi, and Sabssi (pipe). I know other girls and boys who started using drugs, it has became a normal thing,” he added.
My next direction Allal El Fassio High School in Bani Makada was not an exception, since the findings were not far from the expectations. The president of the association “DIYAE” did not hide his concerns about the increase of the phenomenon. “Students seek refuge in smokingwithout knowing that they are heading towards a danger zone”.
As the other students, Mohamed is aware of the health risks presented by smoking; however, he persists in continuing down this road,” he said.
Karim, Meryem, Younes and others are members of the Association “DIYAE” at Allal El Fassi high school. According to Karim, smoking is a gateway to other narcotics, including hashish. Meryen and the other members have a single wish, which is to raise awareness about the phenomenon. “Society must not give up the fight. Action needs to start with stamping out smoking.”
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