The research was conducted by Mazgaon’s Prince Aly Khan Hospital in association with Manipal University, and the participants consisted of 1,000 students from 30 municipal and private schools. The researchers said that sadly one of the key factors that motivated this research, was the large presence of young patients seeking cancer treatment in Mumbai.
The researchers gave out questionnaires to the participants, and based on the gathered responses they deducted that the majority were unaware of the risks posed by combustible tobacco. “Parents, teachers and tobacco vendors in the area were also interviewed to find out local attitudes towards the problem,” said one of the researchers.
The dire need for tobacco intervention programs
“We appreciate the government’s crackdown on hookah parlours. As part of the survey, we found that hookah was highly popular among students. We also found it alarming that a high number of children, who, despite knowing the health hazards and links between oral cancer and tobacco, still continue to consume it,” said Dr Kranti Raymane, head of the community health department at the hospital, whilst pointing out that there are already a number of existing studies indicating an increasing tobacco consumption amongst adolescents.
Dr. Rayamane added that despite the existing research, they thought it necessary to conduct their own in order to have the ground details necessary to suggest interventions. “We requested officials and teachers to formulate a tobacco intervention program as part of the school curriculum so that it can become a people’s movement,’’ he concluded. In the meantime a senior doctor at Prince Aly Khan Hospital said that an educational campaign will commence as of December.
How about harm reduction?
Last year two scientists, R.N. Sharan of the Department of Biochemistry, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), and M. Siddiqi, Chairman of Cancer Foundation of India wrote a letter to the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J.P. Nadda, urging him to consider policies that facilitate smoking cessation by providing smokers with safe and regulated tobacco alternatives.
“The Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS), more popularly known as e-cigarettes, offer a safer and effective way of meeting the physiological demands of nicotine to smokers to help quit or cut down smoking significantly,” they said, after pointing out that in countries such as the UK, these products are endorsed as smoking cessation tools, leading to a significant decline in smoking.
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