|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2019 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 124-125
Tobacco use among adolescent school-going children: Extent of problem and solutions for the future
Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
|Date of Web Publication||9-Sep-2019|
Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Tata Memorial Centre, Parel, Mumbai - 400 012, Maharashtra
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Thiagarajan S. Tobacco use among adolescent school-going children: Extent of problem and solutions for the future. Cancer Res Stat Treat 2019;2:124-5
|How to cite this URL:|
Thiagarajan S. Tobacco use among adolescent school-going children: Extent of problem and solutions for the future. Cancer Res Stat Treat [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Jan 19];2:124-5. Available from: http://www.crstonline.com/text.asp?2019/2/1/124/266447
The authors, Raja and Devi, in their systematic review, have found a wide range (5.9%–49%) of the prevalence of tobacco use among school-going adolescents in India. Majority of the studies reviewed in this systematic review were after 2005. The Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Prohibition Act was brought into effect in 2003, followed by the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control ratification in 2004. As per these acts, sale of tobacco products to minors (<18 years) and within 100 yards of educational institutes is illegal (among others) and a punishable offense. This review highlights the fact that despite the existing laws, there is a considerable percentage of adolescent/ school-going children gaining access and using tobacco in some form or the other.
As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2009–2010, the mean age at initiation of daily tobacco use is 17.8 years. Adolescents and young adults (age 15–24 years) constitute 18% of the current tobacco users in India. The age at which tobacco use is initiated is younger in Central India in comparison to South India. Khaini (smokeless tobacco) is the most common form of tobacco used overall, especially in adolescents, followed by bidi (smoking form) in India. In comparison to smokers (13%), very few users of smokeless tobacco are able to quit overall. Thus, understanding the burden of tobacco use among adolescents helps in the formulation of effective control measures targeting them.
These numbers are alarming as tobacco use initiated in adolescence generally tends to be continued lifelong with low quit rates subsequently, as mentioned by the authors already. Tobacco use increases the risk of developing various illnesses later on in life, including cancer. It is estimated that the deaths due to tobacco habits in India are likely to increase in the near future.
It is evident that a substantial proportion of tobacco users in India initiate its use early in life (adolescence), and hence, the prevention programs need to address this section in particular. Nearly half (44%) of the tobacco users who start tobacco usage early have no formal education. Most of the studies included in the review have shown that peer pressure, use of tobacco products by parents, lack of education, and lack of awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco were most commonly associated with the use of tobacco. Apart from this, aggressive advertising and unlimited access and exposure to information (Internet) regarding tobacco products may have also contributed to the increased prevalence among adolescents.
Despite these alarming figures, the GATS 2016–2017 shows a 6% decrease in the use of tobacco overall and among adolescents. This could be attributed to the strict actions taken by the government in banning use of some tobacco products in certain states. However, more needs to be done. Hence, formal education regarding the harmful effects of tobacco at school, more stringent implementation of the existing laws and counseling of the adults using tobacco at home, could further help reduce the prevalence of tobacco use overall and especially among adolescent school-going children.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
| References|| |
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Chadda R, Sengupta S. Tobacco use by Indian adolescents. Tob Induc Dis 2002;1:111-9.