Guwahati, Nov 25: Tobacco is spelling doom for the children of Northeast region in the country.
According to the latest report, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS 2) 2016-17, released by the Union health ministry in Guwahati, Assam on Friday stated that the percentage of minors in the Northeast region using tobacco is much higher than the national average.
The survey was conducted by the Union ministry of health and family welfare, World Health Organisation and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). As a part of the survey, at least 1,500 samples had been collected from each state.
The percentage of minors using tobacco in the country is 4.4, stated the survey. However, it is as high as 27 percent in Mizoram, 25 in Arunachal, 12.6 in Meghalaya, 11.6 in Tripura, 11.3 in Nagaland, 9.1 in Assam and 9 in Manipur, added the survey.
The figures clearly indicate how rampant is tobacco abuse among children in the region compared to the rest of the country.
The reason behind minors using tobacco has been attributed to the "northeastern culture".
Speaking about the survey report, Sulabha Parasuraman of the TISS and consultant GATS 2 said the use of tobacco is a part of the culture in the Northeast region and the minors are exposed to it.
"Here people offer betel nuts, lime, and tobacco (in leaf form) to guests. Tobacco is a part of the culture," she said.
Except for Assam, Tripura, and Manipur, the prevalence of tobacco use has decreased across the country from 34.6 percent in 2009-10 to 28.6 percent in 2016-17, stated the report.
The bad news is that Assam has recorded an increase in tobacco use from 39.3 to 48.2 percent, Tripura 55.9 to 64.5 percent and Manipur 54.1 to 55.1 percent during the same period.
One northeastern state, Sikkim, has shown a remarkable decline--from 41.6 to 17.9 percent, stated the survey.
As far as smoking is concerned, except for Tripura (0.4 percent increase), all the northeastern states have shown a decrease.
"The most significant decline is in Nagaland (31.5 to 13.2 percent) and Sikkim (26.4 to 10.9 percent). Chewing of smokeless tobacco declined from 25.9 to 21.4 percent in the country but increased in Assam and Tripura," added the report.
"It is a matter of grave concern. We can't let our children get addicted to tobacco products. All the state governments in the Northeast region need to start awareness programmes to highlight the menace and teach people about the hazards of tobacco abuse," said Geetika Dey, a child specialist from Guwahati.