Tobacco users found to be poor in studies

KOCHI: A survey of more than 7,500 high school and higher secondary school students in Ernakulam district has found that tobacco users are prone to poor academic performance.

It also suggests that tobacco is a gateway drug, one that leads users to other potent drugs. Up to 76.3% of lifelong tobacco users — those who have smoked or used smokeless tobacco throughout their life — have failed in a subject compared to 57% of non-users. Further, 24.7% of such users have failed a year of studies as against 9.1% of non-users.

The study also found that tobacco users had significantly higher usage rates of alcohol and illicit drugs. Alcohol use among lifelong tobacco users has been found to be 67.8% as compared to 11% in non-users. In the case of illicit drugs, the rates of use are 33% versus 6.1% in tobacco users and non-users respectively, according to a release.

The findings, recently published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research , were part of the findings of a larger study on psychological issues among adolescent school students conducted by the Bengaluru-based National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS). The National Health Mission (Kerala) and the Department of Health and Family Welfare had been associated with the study.

The study, however, reported decreasing trend of tobacco use among adolescent high school students compared to the findings of previous studies conducted among students in south India, and in Kannur district in particular.

In the survey, 6.9% students reported having used tobacco in any form, with the proportion of boys using tobacco being 12.5% and girls 1.2%.

Majority of users (67%) have been using tobacco hazardously in their school years, signifying that they have a very high risk of progression to addiction.

T.S. Jaisoorya, lead author, said the prevalence of tobacco use and its negative outcomes among adolescents suggested that proactive intervention by teachers and parents was needed to check tobacco use by students.

“Measures need to be strengthened and continued to improve awareness about a wide variety of tobacco-related issues. It should also be ensured that the ban on tobacco supply is strictly enforced near educational institutions,” he said.

K.R. Thankappan, professor emeritus, Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies at the Sree Chitra Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, said tobacco use was as much a public health menace as alcohol and drug abuse.

“Any further delay in addressing the issue will put a painful burden of a lifetime of lifestyle diseases on the people of the State,” he warned.

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Printable version | May 16, 2022 8:13:38 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/tobacco-users-found-to-be-poor-in-studies/article19548893.ece