The results of the Gujarat leg of the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) 2019 were released on Thursday at an event in Mehsana by state health minister Rushikesh Patel. The survey of juvenile tobacco usage trends in the state, while less steep than the national average, still paints a scary picture, with the median age of tobacco usage commencement being 10.8 years.
Some 1.6 per cent of boys who use tobacco preferred smokeless variants in the form of zarda and gutkha, while this figure was 2.3 percent, or 43 per cent higher for girls, the survey found. 11.5 percent of individuals who acknowledged smoking stated they started smoking while still in school.
Tobacco consumption was found to be 5.4 per cent among students, with 6.3 per cent of boys and 4.2 per cent of girls having used a tobacco product. Approximately 3.3 per cent of students, 4.4 per cent of boys and 1.9 percent of girls, admitted to smoking cigarettes.
The International Institute of Population Sciences, under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, conducted the fourth round of the worldwide survey in 2019, surveying 3,720 children aged 13 to 15 years from 32 schools (11 public and 23 private) in Gujarat.
According to the report, just 17.6 per cent of the students smoked at home, while 33 per cent, or one-third, smoked in public locations. Smoking was less common at friends’ houses (5.3 percent) and on social occasions (4.1 percent) than the national average.
According to experts, research suggests that smokers opt not to smoke at home in order to avoid punishment. As a result, seven out of ten people (68.4 per cent) purchased only one stick at a time, compared to the national average of 38.7 per cent.