Most smokers in South-East Asia start tobacco consumption before the age of 18 and almost a quarter of them begin using tobacco before the age of 10, according to a study by the World Health Organisation.
The WHO further goes on to say that in many countries, over 50 percent of minors have purchased tobacco products from stores and 70 percent have never been refused due to their age.
Tobacco use among girl students is also on the rise, it said adding that the focus on this year’s World Tobacco Day, which falls tomorrow, should be on protecting the youth from tobacco use through a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising.
"It is clearly proven that exposure to direct and indirect advertising leads to an increase in tobacco use among young people, and poses a real risk of their becoming regular users," Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, said.
Arguing that it was the school-going children who were at maximum risk, Dr Khalil Rahman, Coordinator for Tobacco Control, WHO, said it was children of this age group who were most vulnerable to indirect advertising being resorted to by the tobacco industry.
"India has a very good Tobacco Control Act, but implementation is the problem," he said.There should be a complete ban on advertising of tobacco products, he said.The WHO has launched tobacco cessation centres in 18 states and was on its way to set up more in other states, Rahman said.
Countries in the South-East Asian region have undertaken a number of measures for tobacco control among youth.These include policies to protect people from exposure to advertising, educating them about harmful effects of tobacco and second-hand smoke and reducing access to tobacco either by raising taxes or by banning its sale to minors, the WHO said.
Community-based support groups and awareness campaigns are also a good way to address the issue, Rehman said.courtsey :DD News