India sees 42% decline in tobacco use in school-going children: Survey

A total of 97,302 students from 987 schools, including 544 public and 443 private schools, participated in the survey and 80,772 of these students were considered for reporting.
Tobacco use in school going children was highest in Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram (58% each), and lowest in Himachal Pradesh (1.1%) and Karnataka (1.2%). (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Tobacco use in school going children was highest in Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram (58% each), and lowest in Himachal Pradesh (1.1%) and Karnataka (1.2%). (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Published on Aug 10, 2021 09:58 PM IST
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In the past decade, there has been a 42% decline in tobacco use among school going children in the age bracket of 13-15 years, shows the latest edition of Global Youth Tobacco Survey’s India data, released on Tuesday. However, it also adds that 38% of cigarette, 47% of bidi and 52% of smokeless tobacco users picked up the habit before their 10th birthday.

The survey was designed to produce national estimates of tobacco use among school going children aged 13-15 years in states and Union Territories by sex, location of school (rural-urban), and management of school (public-private). The first three rounds of the survey were conducted in 2003, 2006 and 2009.

A total of 97,302 students from 987 schools, including 544 public and 443 private schools, participated in the survey and 80,772 of these students were considered for reporting.

The survey found that the median age for initiation of cigarette and bidi smoking, and smokeless tobacco were 11.5 years, 10.5 years and 9.9 years respectively and at least 2.8% of the students surveyed admitted to having tried using electronic-cigarettes.

Tobacco use in the above-mentioned category of children was highest in Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram (58% each), and lowest in Himachal Pradesh (1.1%) and Karnataka (1.2%), with at least 29% of all students having been exposed to second hand smoke overall, shows the fact-sheet.

“The more, and the sooner, we create awareness among children about harms due to tobacco use, the better will be the outcomes in terms of reduction in prevalence of tobacco use among children and consequently among adults. Harmful effects of tobacco use should be incorporated in school curricula at various levels starting right from the primary school level,” said Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, while presiding over the release.

The current tobacco use (during the last 30 days) had come down to 8.5% compared to 14.6% in the previous survey conducted among this category of children in 2009. Use of any form of tobacco is currently higher among boys (9.6%) than girls (7.4%) compared to 19% boys and 8.3% girls in 2009.

Also, the prevalence of smoking tobacco was 7.3%; and in the case of smokeless tobacco products, the prevalence was 4.1% in the current survey.

This has been the fourth round of Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS-4) that was conducted in 2019 by the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) under the health ministry.

The objective of the survey was to provide information on tobacco use, cessation, second-hand smoke, access and availability, exposure to anti-tobacco information, awareness and receptivity to tobacco marketing, knowledge, and attitudes.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Rhythma Kaul works as an assistant editor at Hindustan Times. She covers health and related topics, including ministry of health and family welfare, government of India.

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