'8% Girls Under 15 Consume Tobacco'
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01 June 2010
By Risha Chitlangia
New Delhi, India
In India, 8.3% of girls in the 13–15 age groups consume some form of tobacco, according to the first Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) report. Experts say that the data is indicative of the trend of an increasing number of women using tobacco products. In an attempt to accurately ascertain the use of tobacco products in the country, the Union health ministry along with WHO has conducted the first Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS).
‘‘Regarding the use of tobacco in the country we just have National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data. This is the first survey in the country which will accurately tell us about the use of tobacco in different socio–economic strata,’’ Dr Jagdish Kaur, chief medical officer of DGHS in the ministry of health, said. Under the GATS project, 72,000 people were surveyed in 29 states. ‘‘With the help of WHO, we collected data. This time we used a special handheld device which was connected to out masterserver. So, all data collection was directly uploaded to the server. This helped us in expediting the data collection process,’’ Dr Kaur said.
The project was sanctioned by the ministry last year with an objective of identifying areas where tobacco use is high. ‘‘We had a set of 75 questions. Once the report is compiled, we will have a lot of information based on several parameters,’’ Dr Kaur said.
As for tobacco use among women in India, experts say that there has definitely been a rise in the cases. Women comprise nearly 20% of the world’s more than 1 billion smokers. ‘‘The global report on tobacco use is indicative of the increase in the use of tobacco among women in India. It is a percentage by which it has gone up,’’ Vineet Gill, national programme officer of Tobacco Free Initiative, WHO India, said.
The vast majority of women who consume tobacco use smokeless tobacco (gutka, paan masala with tobacco, mishri, gul) and it varies considerably across states with prevalence rates ranging from 1% and 60%. The GATS report is likely to be released in June this year.