Experts welcome age limit bar for purchasing tobacco
GUWAHATI: In view of the rising number of young tobacco users in Assam, cancer experts and anti-tobacco government bodies feel that the Union health ministry's proposal to raise the minimum age of purchasing tobacco to 25 years will act as a powerful deterrent in curbing tobacco addiction amongst youngsters.
As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2010) that is carried out every four years, 39 per cent of adolescents in Assam above the age of 15 are regular tobacco users, a staggering figure as compared to the national average of 34.6 per cent. According to the 2000-01 data as per Global Youth Tobacco Survey, the rate was 36.1 per cent. The comparison shows an increasing trend in tobacco consumption among youngsters.
Cancer experts said if the containing the habit among youngsters in the early stage contributes immensely in preventing full-fledged tobacco addiction. They added that peer pressure and attitudinal shift acts a catalyst in starting tobacco consumption.
"If the Union Health Ministry is truly examining a proposal to raise the age then it is quite appreciative. The number of young people, especially minors, resorting to tobacco consumption is worrisome. If they are prevented early, then they will refrain in the future as well," said Ashok Kumar Das, associate professor of head and neck oncology, Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute.
Though Assam is the first state in the country to ban smokeless tobacco of all forms, smuggling of tobacco from neighbouring states where such laws doesn't exist is posing a big challenge to enforcement bodies. Last year's statistics showed 3.2 lakh cigarette packs and 6.5 sachets of guthkas were being sold in the state.