19% girl students in Bhopal use tobacco | bhopal | Hindustan Times
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19% girl students in Bhopal use tobacco

Children in government schools are more likely to use tobacco than their private school counterparts in Bhopal, a survey by People’s Medical College has revealed.

bhopal Updated: Feb 05, 2016 18:52 IST
Shruti Tomar
Madhya Pradesh
Experts said the reason children take to tobacco at a young age and fall prey to cancer was the government’s failure to enforce the Tobacco Control Act. (Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times)

Children in government schools are more likely to use tobacco than their private school counterparts in Bhopal, a survey by People’s Medical College has revealed.

The survey conducted among 2,285 schoolchildren in Bhopal by People’s Medical College, Bhopal, in association with another medical college in Jhalawar, Rajasthan, found that 415 children started using tobacco in school at an average age of 10.06 years.

Of the schoolchildren who use tobacco, 61.9% were government school students. Girl students were vulnerable irrespective of the school they attended — with 19% using tobacco. The study revealed that girls on average started using tobacco at a younger age than boys — for girls, the average age is 9.98 years, while it is 10.15 years for boys.

The top three carcinogens are smoking and chewing tobacco, areca nut (supari) and betel quid (paan, paan masala), which together have made oral cancer the most common cancer in India. Of them, tobacco in its three forms — chewing, smoking and second-hand smoke — accounts for 30% of all cancers in the country.

Experts said the reason children take to tobacco at a young age and fall prey to cancer was the government’s failure to enforce the Tobacco Control Act, which bans promotion, sale to minors and sale of tobacco within 100 yards of an educational institution.

“The district administration, the Bhopal Municipal Corporation and the health department have completely failed in prohibiting sale of tobacco near schools,” said Mukesh Sinha, executive director, Madhya Pradesh Voluntary Health Association. “I have hardly seen any action on a shopkeeper for selling tobacco near a school or to minors. It is necessary that the school administrations also put a check on sale and use of tobacco near schools.”

Sinha suggested the government impose a higher tax to deter children from taking up tobacco instead of spending crores on treatment of cancer.

“The state government is spending Rs 1,373 crore on the treatment of patients suffering from oral cancer but on other side it is charging less tax on tobacco products as compared to the neighbouring states. To discourage youngsters, especially students, the government should increase tax on tobacco products,” he said.

KIDS AND TOBACCO

The survey conducted by People’s Medical College, Bhopal, in association with another medical college in Jhalawar, Rajasthan, reveals some startling figures

2,285 School kids surveyed

415 children started using tobacco in school at an average age of 10.06 years

61.9% of the schoolchildren who use tobacco are from government schools

19% girl students use tobacco

Girls on average start using tobacco at average age of 9.98 years, while it is 10.15 years for boys

Tobacco in its three forms — chewing, smoking and second-hand smoke — accounts for 30% of all cancers in the country

The Tobacco Control Act bans promotion, sale to minors and sale of tobacco within 100 yards of an educational institution