World No Tobacco Day: MP's 39% Minors Chew Gutka, Ban On Sale Of Tobacco Near Schools, Colleges Remains Ineffective

World No Tobacco Day: MP's 39% Minors Chew Gutka, Ban On Sale Of Tobacco Near Schools, Colleges Remains Ineffective

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) conducted by the Union Health Ministry, World Health Organisation (WHO) and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Kerala (21.3) has the highest and Sikkim (16.1) the lowest mean age of initiation.

SmitaUpdated: Friday, May 31, 2024, 01:49 AM IST
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Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Almost 13.1 per cent of children aged less than 15 years in the state consume gutka. The percentage of such children in the 15-17 years age group is 26.4. Thus, a total of 39.5 per cent children less than 18 years in the state consume tobacco. The average age of initiation of consumption of smokeless tobacco in the state is 18.4 years, which is less than the all-India average of 18.8 years.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) conducted by the Union Health Ministry, World Health Organisation (WHO) and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Kerala (21.3) has the highest and Sikkim (16.1) the lowest mean age of initiation. These figures are relevant as the World No Tobacco Day (May 31) this year is themed on √ęProtecting children from tobacco industry interference.

The Madhya Pradesh government had banned sale of gutka on April 1, 2012. The licences of two gutka manufacturing companies, Rajshree and Guru, were cancelled and announced that no new company making chewing tobacco would be allowed to set base in the state. In July 2014, the government banned the sale of tobacco products within a radius of 100 metres of schools and colleges. In any case, the violators are required to pay a fine of just Rs 200.

The laws and the rules, however, have hardly affected the consumption of smokeless tobacco by children and adolescents. Gutka (a preparation made of crushed supari, tobacco, catechu, slaked lime and flavourings) is no longer sold in shops but vendors have found a different way to avoid the ban. They are now selling tobacco and plain paan masala in separate pouches. The customer can mix them and consume. Neither do paan shop owners observe the ban on selling tobacco products to individuals below the age of 18 years.

Besides MP, many other states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Telangana have also banned gutka.

According to nodal officer, cancer registry, Hamidia Hospital, Bhopal, Dr Atul Shrivastava, tobacco consumption is the prime causative factor in at least 54 per cent cases of cancer, including mouth or oral, tongue, laryngeal, pharyngeal, gum urinary bladder etc. among men in Bhopal. It is 15 per cent among women.

Children usually acquire the habit of chewing tobacco when they are between 14 and 18 years of age. 'Hence, we need to sensitise children studying in Classes 9-12 to the harmful effects of tobacco by introducing it in their syllabus,' Shrivastava said.

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