New Delhi: As the government mulls pictorial warnings on tobacco products, a new study has shown that most people take to smoking in their youth under the influence of family members.
In fact, 35% have one or more parent who smoke thus conditioning their mind towards a casual attitude towards smoking, according to the study by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Another 6.1% may feel encouraged to smoke in the company of friends who smoke. Besides the tobacco advertisements on bill boards and smoking in movies are the main influencers.
The data shows that smoking prevalence amongst youths in 2000 was 4.8% which catapulted upto 15.9% in 2006.
The study estimates that at least 30% of future cancer burden is potentially preventable by tobacco control.
“Given that teenagers are the most likely victims of tobacco addiction and that the risks of tobacco use are the highest among those who start smoking early and continue for prolonged periods, it is of paramount importance that successful prevention efforts are implemented,” according to Dr P C Gupta, Director, Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health.
India reports 8,00,000 new cancer cases every year with tobacco related cancer itself contributing 40-50% of the cases.
“Children are the worst sufferers from exposure to tobacco smoke. They suffer from the disease when they are children and are at an increased risk of cancer when they reach adulthood,” Gupta said.
“We urgently need smoke-free adulthood to prevent cancer and other diseases and smoke free childhood even more urgently because children cannot protect themselves,” he said.
Though there is no direct evidence to link smoking in children with cancer, studies show that kids who are from smoking families have the highest risk of succumbing to cancer later in life.
“The studies are based on the National Data Base and show that cancers of lung, kidney and bladder are the highest in people who were exposed to passive smoking in their childhood,” Dr Deepak Sarin, cancer surgeon with the Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon, told PTI.
According to him, apart from cancer, there are a host of problems associated with children who come from smoking families. “Some of these are lung diseases like asthma and other Upper Respiratory Tract diseases”.
Such children also have chances of five times more presence of toxins in their body than normal children, he added.