Tobacco abuse among youths on rise: study

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Ahmedabad, Jan 12 (UNI) In India alone, 5,500 youths succumb to tobacco addiction each day thus making tobacco a source of growing concern not only for the government but also for social organisations working for human welfare, according to a research carried out by Healis and World Health Organisation (WHO) across the country.

Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health is an organisation dedicated to improving public health in India and other developing countries.

''Children start using tobacco because the environment in which they are, encourages them to do so. The global as well as Indian research findings make it quite clear -- youngsters are more likely to start using tobacco if they are exposed to advertisement of tobacco products, association of their role models with tobacco products and possession of objects advertising tobacco,'' the study said.

The research on the sample population aged between 13 and 17 years showed that the majority of tobacco users started using in their teens, thus acquiring a persuasive and unhealthy habit.

Studies conducted by WHO established that environmental smoke and lack of awareness regarding the health hazards of tobacco were the main factors leading to increasing tendency among youths towards smoking.

Usage of tobacco, especially smoking, among youths has turned into a trend which has caught up rapidly. The trend requires youngsters of this generation to take a few puffs or be branded as ''uncool'' by peers. Thus an assuming step towards pleasure turns into a life-long addiction. This trend has also led to a conspicuous rise in use of tobacco amongst youths.

Data showed that prevalence of smoking among youths in 2000 was 4.8 per cent, which catapulted to 15.9 per cent in 2006.

Surprisingly, 32.2 per cent of youths thought that boys who smoked had more friends and 16.8 per cent thought the same about girls.

Most of the youths were exposed to tobacco smoke at an early age due to a family member who smoked. In fact, 35 per cent had one or more parents who smoked, thus conditioning their minds towards a casual attitude towards smoking. About 6.1 per cent might feel encouraged to smoke as they were in company of friends who smoked.

Besides these, tobacco advertisements on billboards and smoking in movies were the main influencers.

Given that, teenagers were the most likely victims of tobacco addiction and that the risks of tobacco use were highest among those who started smoking early and continued for prolonged periods.

Therefore, the study found that it was of paramount importance that successful prevention efforts were being implemented.

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