09/03/2016 9:06 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

This Is One Choice All Indians Should Make: Stop Smoking

Stepan Popov

I'm a proud Indian and I love seeing my country continue to grow and prosper. But what good is experiencing life's adventures if people aren't healthy enough to enjoy it?

Almost every person in India has witnessed the horrible effects of smoking on health. Even without a direct connection, we are all aware of the debilitating effects of smoking and can empathize with the suffering of people who have gone through lung cancer or other tobacco-related diseases.

I believe no one should have to endure that kind of pain. While some diseases are associated with factors beyond our control (and, indeed, many cases of lung cancer are diagnosed in people who have never smoked), we actually have a choice when it comes to tobacco-related illness. There are steps we can take to reduce our risk. So why shouldn't we?

When someone takes up smoking, it's a choice that can lead to a habit, and that habit can lead to an addiction.

Every choice we make in life affects our future, no matter how insignificant the choice may seem in the moment. When someone takes up smoking, it's a choice that can lead to a habit, and that habit can lead to an addiction. It's a choice with profound consequences for one's long-term health that can be difficult to see until a critical stage has been reached. That's why I volunteered to lend my voice to a new public service announcement: by helping more people understand the enormous health risks of smoking, the campaign empowers them to choose wisely.

One of the questions I'm asked most often is, "What is the secret of your youth?" There is no secret ingredient, diet, machine or procedure. It is simply the result of a commitment I made to myself to live healthy, which guides the choices I make every day. In lending my voice to this campaign, I hope to encourage others to make that same commitment to themselves, and enjoy the health benefits that result from choosing not to smoke.

The main message that I hope people will take from this public service announcement is that they can choose to live clean. They can choose health and choose life. They should make this choice for themselves as well as their loved ones.

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