ITANAGAR, 18 Aug: Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram recorded the highest tobacco consumption among school-going children aged 13 to 15 years at 57.9 percent, followed by three other Northeastern states-Nagaland (42.6%), Meghalaya (33.6 %) and Sikkim (24.8%), revealed the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS)-2019.
As per the key findings of the survey, which was released by the ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently, 58 percent of the students (79% of boys and 38 % of girls) use any form of tobacco in Arunachal, while 54 percent of the students (76% of boys and 32% of girls) smoke tobacco.
Forty-six percent of the students smoke cigarettes and bidis, while 41 percent of the students (58% of boys and 24% of girls) currently use smokeless tobacco. Thirty-five percent of the students tried to quit smoking in the past 12 months, while 24 percent of the current smokers wanted to quit smoking.
While 31 percent of the students were exposed to tobacco smoke at home, 68 percent were exposed to tobacco smoke inside enclosed public places, the survey said.
The usual places of smoking are-at home (8.4%), at school (11.3 %), at friends houses (11.9 %), at social events (8.9 %), in public places (5.2 %) and others (54.3 %).
The median ages of initiation of cigarette and bidi smoking and smokeless tobacco use were 8.7 years, 8.6 years and 8.5 years, respectively.
It said that 94 percent of the cigarette smokers and 88 percent of the current bidi smokers bought cigarettes and bidis from stores, pan shops, street vendors or vending machines. Among the current smokers who bought cigarette and bidis, 29 percent of cigarette smokers and 32 percent of bidi smokers were not refused because of their age.
It further revealed that 36 percent of the school heads were unaware of the COTPA, 2003 as well as the policy to display ‘tobacco-free school’ board.
Seventy percent of the surveyed students said they noticed anti-tobacco messages in mass media, while 19 noticed tobacco advertisement or promotions while visiting points of sale.
It has also been revealed during the survey that 68 percent of the students favoured ban on smoking inside enclosed public places, while 47 percent thought other people’s cigarette smoking is harmful to them.
In Arunachal, the GYTS-4 was conducted in 2019 as part of national survey by International Institute for Population Science under the ministry of health and family welfare. The overall response rate was 82.5 percent.
A total of 1,814 students from 22 schools, including 19 government and six private, participated in the survey, of which 1,377 students aged 13 to 15 years were considered for reporting.
At the national level, a total of 97, 302 students from 987 schools (Public-544; Private-443) participated in the survey, of which, 80,772 students aged 13 to 15 years were considered for reporting.
As per the findings, 8.5 percent of students from classes 8 to 10 and aged from 13 to 15 years use tobacco in any form. The survey highlights that the prevalence of tobacco use among boys is 9.6 percent and among girls is 7.4 percent.
More than 29 percent of the students have reported exposure to second hand smoke.
At the national level, the median age of initiation on tobacco use among the children in the 13 to 15 years age group, has been estimated at 11.5 years for cigarettes, 10.5 years for Bidi and 9.9 years for smokeless (chewing) tobacco.
COTPA-2003 contains specific provisions to discourage tobacco use among children and youth, such as ban on smoking in public places, including in all educational institutions, prohibition of sale of tobacco products to or by minors (less than 18 years of age) and prohibition of sales of tobacco products within 100 yards of any educational institution.
The health ministry issued the guidelines for Tobacco Free Educational Institutions (ToFEI) in 2019 with the objective of providing fresh momentum to implementation of tobacco control initiatives in educational institutions.
The guidelines lay down the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders, such as central government, state governments, educational institutions and civil society organizations for making the educational institutions tobacco free. These guidelines need to be implemented by educational institutions, including schools, colleges/ institutes for higher or professional education and universities, both in public and private sector
The ministry suggested the state government to initiate measures for strict enforcement of the provisions of COTPA, 2003 and implementation of the ToFEI guidelines.