New Delhi: Since time immemorial, tobacco has been known for its harmful effects on our health and has been linked to diseases like cancer as well as untimely deaths.
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, tobacco kills around 6 million people each year. More than 5 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
Adding to these statistics, a global survey has revealed a very unfortunate fact, saying that smoking – which is one of the world's leading causes of preventable death – has got roughly 11 percent of youth aged between 13 and 15 in its grip.
The study, conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), takes into account data from 61 countries between 2012 and 2015.
Most smokers, according to the study take up smoking during their teens and half of nations had a smoking rate of at least 15 percent for boys compared to the 8 percent of girls.
Lead study author Rene Arrazola of the Office on Smoking and Health at the CDC said, “Smoking has been shown to harm nearly every organ of the body, and science shows that most adult smokers first start smoking during adolescence,” adding, “Young people who begin to smoke at an earlier age are more likely than those who start at older ages to develop long-term nicotine addiction.”
“Therefore, efforts to prevent youth tobacco use are critical to prevent another generation of adults who smoke and suffer from smoking-related death and disease.”
The study claims that Sri Lanka has the lowest prevalence of teen smoking while Timor-Leste had the highest prevalence with 35 percent.
For boys, the lowest smoking prevalence was 2.9 percent in Tajikistan and the highest was 61.4 percent in Timor-Leste. For girls, the lowest rate - 1.6 percent – was seen in Tajikistan and the highest – 29 percent – in Bulgaria.
In the majority of countries, at least half of current tobacco smokers said they wanted to quit, the study also found. The proportion of student smokers who said they desired to quit ranged from a low of 32 percent in Uruguay to a high of 90 percent in the Philippines.
Limitations of the study include the reliance on teens to accurately recall and report on their smoking behavior, the authors note. It also only included students enrolled in school, which might not fully represent smoking behavior in these countries.
(With inputs from Reuters)