While the government makes substantive efforts to discourage adults from consuming tobacco, the actual age of using the addictive could be lowering, if doctors are to be believed.
Children as young as 10 are coming for tobacco addiction treatment, doctors say, alarmed that such lowering of age would risk exposure to narcotic drugs.
“Children are taken to tobacco at a very young age. This is the most disturbing trend we observe from the cases,” AIIMS’ National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre chief Dr S Khandelwal said.
He said the age when children are initiated into tobacco use has also been coming down with those as young as ten years are seen using the addictive. Hooking to tobacco young makes children experiment with other illicit drugs and many are taken to cannabis, heroin and with intravenous drugs at a later stage.
“Drug abuse cases are linked with HIV AIDS,” Dr Khandelwal said.
Once identified, tobacco addiction could be treated with medicine and counselling. It is crucial for parents to approach psychiatrists at an early stage.
Besides doctors, there should be adequate number of trained community health workers at the primary care level to implement tobacco control policies.
Doctors are also concerned that awareness on the harms of chewing tobacco is not all that well known. Though people know the hazards of smoking tobacco, many in the lower strata consider tobacco chewing to be good oral hygiene.
The Delhi government has written to CBSE to include tobacco related topics for students of 6-12 classes.
As part of celebrating World No Tobacco Day on May 31, the anti-smoking department is sensitising lawyers, councillors, tobacco vendors and the public, while special focus is given to students.
The department has also issued advisories to tobacco companies not to distribute advertisement board and tobacco counters to vendors.