M A I N   N E W S

Anti-tobacco curricula in schools soon
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Guide ready

Non-smoking teachers will help students quit smoking
Chapters for parents who tend to affect their children’s health by smoking

What is disturbing

Percentage of students who initiated smoking before the age of 10 increasing
15 pc of India’s students are nicotine dependent
Boys aged 15 to 24 smoking 5 cigarettes a day while girls of that age smoking 9 sticks a day.

New Delhi, February 11
India is planning to introduce a comprehensive anti-tobacco curriculum and teachers’ guide at school level across the country to reduce the growing dependence of students on nicotine.

The move is part of the National Tobacco Control Programme which is set for a major expansion through the coverage of school students whose addiction to tobacco as well as exposure to second-hand smoke through contact with smoker parents is increasing.

The teachers’ manual, complete with worksheets for children on the A to Z of tobacco - its extent, how it impacts the physical and psychological health of users, how it kills, what are the laws governing tobacco use in India; the motive behind pictorial warnings on tobacco packs; the adverse effects of smokeless tobacco like gutka, and the best ways quitting tobacco - is ready for circulation to all the CBSE, ICSE and state board schools.

The manual, developed by the Ministry of Health, also carries chapters for parents who tend to affect their children’s health by smoking in their presence. The chapter is named, “Effects of second-hand smoke and what the parents need to do” and comprises joint tasks with children.

Interestingly, the Ministry has said in the manual that those instructing students in the anti-tobacco curricula should themselves be non-smokers and non-tobacco users. Asked how they would ensure this requirement, a health ministry official said, “We expect the schools to respect the contents of the manual considering we and the school authorities have a shared objective — that of reversing the alarming trend of increasing tobacco use among our students.” The manual would be included in the school system under the ongoing School Health Programme, currently underway in 27 states.

It is inspired by the growing evidence of more and more students becoming regular tobacco users. The latest Global Tobacco Youth Survey for India reveals a rise in the number of tobacco-addicted students from 13.7 per cent in 2006 to 14.7 per cent now.

The addiction has been reported for both smoking (cigarettes and bidis) and smokeless (gutka, areca nut, khaini, zarda) forms of tobacco, with the prevalence of smoking among boys being three times higher than that among girls, who are more addicted to smokeless tobacco forms.

Moreover, the percentage of students who initiated smoking before the age of 10 years has been increasing, much to the discomfort of policy planners. It was 26 in 2006 and is 45.4 per cent now. The percentage of boys exposed to second-hand smoke is 29.3 per cent while that of girls is 22.4.

The findings of the Youth Survey were most recently corroborated by those from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey which showed that boys aged 15 to 24 years were smoking 5 cigarettes a day while girls of that age were smoking 9 sticks a day. That means girl students in India are more nicotine dependent than boys though the average tobacco use continues to be higher for the boys.





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