25% Mumbai Teens Addicted To Smoking: Here's Why India's Youth Needs Help To Quit Smoking
Despite several ad campaigns and measures taken by the government, smoking is rampant in the country
Smoking causes serious health hazards
- A study has revealed that 25% students in Mumbai are addicted to smoking.
- Awareness should be spread in schools about health hazards of smoking.
- Social media should be used as an active tool for spreading awareness.
Despite rigorous advertising campaigns spreading awareness about smoking and its harmful effects, people have continued with the awful habit. Steps like banning hookah parlours in the city and increasing the price of cigarettes have also failed to have the desired impact on smokers, a large chunk of which include teenagers and youngsters. According to a recent study conducted by Prince Aly Khan Hospital, Mazgaon, in association with Manipal University, 25% students in Mumbai, aged between 10 and 19 are addicted to smoking, reports Hindustan Times.
The study surveyed 1,000 children from 30 municipal and private schools in Mazgoan area. The study also included interactions with parents, teachers and tobacco vendors in the area to get to the roots of the problem.
"There are already enough warnings in the media about cigarette smoking being injurious to health. But I don't think that is a deterrent because most people don't take it seriously. People think that they only smoke two or five cigarettes and hence none of the health hazards would reach them," says Dr. Neeraj Jain.
Also read: Women Find Difficult To Quit Smoking More Than Men, Here's Why
For school going students who smoke, he says, "It has become very important to begin educating children from class 4 or 5. Lots of children today start smoking in class 8-9. As part of the subject on environmental studies in schools, school authorities should focus on indoor and outdoor pollution. They should make kids aware about what is outdoor pollution and the aspects of it, so that children become more conscience citizens, in terms of their own social and civic responsibility. And additionally, they must also be made aware of indoor pollution and how cigarette smoking is a very important contributor to it."
Dr Jain says that availability of cigarettes must be dealt with. There should be stricter laws about sale of cigarettes to minors. In fact, local paanwallahs should be penalised for selling cigarettes to school students and minors, he suggests.
Also read our expert advice: Why Is It So Tough To Quit Smoking?
In the meanwhile, studies conducted in the previous years have stated that youngsters are smoking because they think its "cool". Smoking is also a popular fad among many college students. A study conducted by GFK mode, spanning 900-plus smokers in four metropolises - Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Mumbai, revealed that 82% of respondents view smoking as a trend among youngsters.
"Social media can be used in a great way to spread awareness about smoking. There should be an active movement on social media. Medical experts should give write-ups and advisories on the health hazards of smoking. Also, people who have suffered because of smoking should also be mobilised to share their experiences on social media. That is a better way of spreading the message among people," says Dr Jain and adds that most of his patients quit smoking only after they were convinced about the health hazards it causes.
However, a government data in June this year stated that the overall tobacco problem in the country has seen a decline. The data, given by Global Audit Tobacco Survey (GATS) and released by Union health ministry, stated that the prevalence of tobacco use among people between 15 and 24 years has reduced from 18.4% to 12.4%.
The GATS survey was done in 2009-10. It is a global standard for systematically monitoring adult tobacco use - smoking and smokeless - and tracking key control indicators.
It is a household survey of people aged 15 years and above, conducted in all 30 states of India and two Union territories.
But it is still a long way to go for a population of 1.2 billion. One in every 5 adults (199 million people) use tobacco products like guthka and khaini apart from cigarettes, and one in every 10 adults (100 million people) smoke tobacco.
(Dr. Neeraj Jain is a senior consultant at department of chest medicine in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.)
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