Students smoke as Delhi completes two-year ban

October 1st, 2010 - 10:00 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 1 (IANS) A 16-year-old boy standing outside his school in Delhi puffs on a cigarette and tries to make smoke rings with a group of his friends Friday, a day before a ban on smoking in public places in the capital completes two years. And with some attitude, he says: “I don’t smoke much, only when I am with friends that I like to smoke.”

A little ahead stood another 17-year-old chewing tobacco. He justified it to be a “pan masala with no tobacco content in it”.

Both the boys are among the thousands of public and private school students who are increasingly taking to tobacco-consumption in the capital. A study by tobacco control NGO Hriday-Shan said many students in both public and private schools are taking to smoking.

“In the study, we found the prevalence rate for use of tobacco products to be 18.9 percent for government school students, compared to 12.2 percent for private school students,” Hriday-Shan deputy director Radhika Shrivastav said.

The report said the use of multiple forms of tobacco like gutka, bidis and cigarettes was more prevalent among government school students than private school kids.

“These multiple forms of tobacco like gutka, bidis, etc. are cheap and easily available too,” he said.

The NGO also found that current use of cigarettes was 1.7 times higher among government school students than private school students, whereas current use of bidis was 2.1 times higher in government schools than in private schools.

“A rather surprising finding was the higher prevalence of cigarette smoking among government school students as compared to private school students, because cigarettes are 8-10 times more expensive than bidis in this setting,” Shrivastav said.

“This finding is in contrast to the pattern commonly found among adults in India, whereby those of higher socio-economic class are using cigarettes at higher rates, and those of lower socio-economic class are using bidis at a higher rate, especially in urban and rural settings,” he said.

One of the reasons cited in the report for high prevalence of students in government schools taking up tobacco smoking was that “they are more vulnerable to initiation and use and to outside influences that encourage use”.

According to the report, government school students scored the lowest for refusal skills, self-efficacy, with less confidence in taking decisions and social susceptibility to chewing tobacco and smoking.

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