Aizawl: Mizoram, along with Arunachal Pradesh, has the highest tobacco use in the country among students in the age group of 13-15 years, an official said on Monday. 

Addressing a one-day workshop on Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS)-4 and Tobacco-Free Educational Institutions for mediapersons here, National Tobacco Control Programme state consultant R. Lalremruata said at least 58 per cent of students in Mizoram in the age group of 13-15 years have currently used tobacco in any form against the national average of 8.5 per cent. 

Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have occupied the first rank in tobacco use among students of this age group, the official said quoting a report of Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS)-4 conducted in 2019.The report was released in August 2021.

Lalremruata said that 44 per cent of students in the state are currently using smoked tobacco, while 33 per cent used smokeless tobacco, he said.

He said that 35 per cent smoke cigarettes and 4.6 per cent smoke bidi.
63.7 per cent of smokers were boys and 53 per cent were girls, while more girls (37.7%) used smokeless tobacco as compared to boys (28.1%), he said.

42 per cent of students were exposed to secondhand smoke at home, while 51 per cent were exposed to tobacco smoke inside enclosed public places. He said that the main reason for the high rate of tobacco use among students was due to peer influence.

According to Lalremruata, GYTS was conducted in Mizoram in 2019 as part of a national survey by International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 

A total of 1,404 students from 21 schools, including 11 private schools, had participated in the survey, he said. Of the 1,404 students, 913 were considered for the survey, he said.

Among tobacco users, 53 per cent wanted to quit smoking and 50 per cent of smokeless tobacco users also wanted to quit, Lalremruata said.

About 100 institutions in the state have been now declared “tobacco-free institutions and efforts are on to achieve 100 per cent tobacco-free institutions”, he said.

He said that 95 per cent of school heads in the state were aware of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA). The rate of COTPA awareness among school heads was comparatively high in rural areas than urban areas as 100 per cent of school heads in rural areas were sensitized with the act against 92 per cent in urban areas, he said.

Citing that media played a crucial role in spreading awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco, Lalremruata also said that 57 per cent of students surveyed had noticed anti-tobacco messages through mass media. 

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