4 in 10 kids smoke first cigarette before age 10

Four in 10 school-going children in the country smoke first cigarette before the age of 10 years, and they are hardly refused while buying cigarettes, says a new study.

It reveals that 9 percent students reported that they ever smoked cigarettes, even one or two puffs, which was significantly higher among boys compared to girls (boys 15.8 pc and girls 4.8 pc).

A total of 3,113 students of 52 schools participated in this study tilted, ‘Prevalence of tobacco use and its contributing factors among adolescents in Bangladesh: Results from a population-based study’.

Sheikh Mohammed Shariful Islam, AKM Mainuddin and Faiz Ahmed Bhuiyan of the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research (icddr,b) and Kamrun Nahar Chowdhury of the National Centre for Control of Rheumatic Fever and Heart Disease, Dhaka jointly conducted the study in 2016.

Among the students, the study shows, 2 percent are current cigarette smokers. In addition to the current cigarette smoking, another 6 percent students also use other tobacco products.

About cigarette dependency, one percent students reported that they felt like having a cigarette first thing in the morning. But, about 70 percent of current student smokers during interviews reported that they desired to stop smoking and more than 8 in 10 (85 pc) tried to stop smoking during the past years, but failed.

Nine in 10 current smokers (90 pc) reported that they had ever received help to stop smoking.

“Adolescents are motivated to smoke by their peers, smoker parents or siblings and tobacco advertisements,” said principle author of the study Dr Shariful Islam.

About exposure to secondhand smoke, the study reveals that 35 percent students reported exposure to smoke from other people in their home and 42.2 percent were exposed to secondhand smoke at public places.

According to the study, nearly 38 percent current smokers purchase cigarettes from the point of sales, of which 97.8 percent are not refused purchase because of their young age. About 10 percent students were offered free cigarettes by a tobacco company representative and about 5 percent students usually smoke at home.

The researchers said the current tobacco control programmes need to be strengthened and stressed enforcement of existing policies and expansion of additional programmes, otherwise, tobacco attributed morbidity and mortality will continue to rise.

There is a need to develop the smoking cessation support at both the health facility and the community levels to check tobacco use in children, they said.