Background: Tobacco use, which is the cause of several respiratory diseases, generally starts in the teens. Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) is an international initiative to investigate the tobacco use in school going youth of 13 to 15 years of age. This report describes the GYTS findings in the North Indian region.
Methods: A two-stage cluster sample was used with selection of schools on probability proportional to enrollment size followed by systematic equal probability sampling with a random start of classes from each school. The 85-item questionnaire included 'core GYTS' and other additional questions. Data analysis was performed using EpiInfo 3.2 software and the results accounted for the complex sampling design and weighting factors in the data set.
Results: The sample consisted of 9319 students out of the total eligible population of 30488 from 100 schools. The prevalence of ever-use of tobacco varied between 2.9 to 8.5% in boys and 1.5 to 9.8% in girls. The prevalence was highest in Chandigarh and lowest in Punjab. Between 16 to 46% of students were exposed to the habit of tobacco among parents or friends. There were 10 to 34% students who were passively exposed to environmental tobacco smoke.
Conclusion: Tobacco use is present in up to 10 percent of school going youth in the region. A majority of them had desired to quit. Tobacco control and cessation programmes therefore, remain important health issues.