Young India put out the stub: Tobacco use declines by 81 lakh as fewer youth take to smoking


Fewer youngsters seem to find smoking cool in India.

Government data reveal a drop of six percentage points in young people using tobacco products.

The highlights of the second Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), released by the Union health ministry on Thursday, show prevalence of tobacco use among people between 15 and 24 years has reduced from 18.4% in 2009-10 to 12.4% in 2016-17.

“I am happy that tobacco users have reduced by 81 lakhs and consumption of tobacco among the youth has seen a marked decrease,” health minister JP Nadda said.

He was conferred the WHO director general’s special recognition award for global tobacco control on Thursday.

“My focus has always been on the youth. My mantra for success in tobacco-control efforts is catch ’em young. I am very pleased to note, therefore, that there has been a 54% relative reduction in the prevalence of tobacco use among minors (15-17 years) and 28% reduction in the age group of 18-24 years.”

But the country of more than 1.2 billion people has a long way to go. Every fifth adult — which is 199-million people — uses tobacco products such as the chewable gutkha and khaini, other than cigarettes and bidis. And every 10th adult, or 100-million people, smokes tobacco.

The GATS-1 survey was done in 2009-10. It is a global standard for systematically monitoring adult tobacco use — smoking and smokeless — and tracking key control indicators.

It is a household survey of people aged 15 years and above conducted in all 30 states of India and two Union territories.

The National Health Policy 2017 has set a goal of reducing the prevalence of tobacco use by 15% by 2020 and 30% by 2025.

According to Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, chief executive of Voluntary Health Association of India, tough tobacco-control laws and steps such as 85% graphic health warning on products, smoke-free rules, gutkha ban, and higher taxes were paying off.

“The reduction in consumption shows the government’s strong commitment,” she said.

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