Background: Smoking and tobacco use is a major public health issue in developing countries. We performed an epidemiological study to determine the prevalence of smoking and tobacco-use and awareness of risks of tobacco use among school children.
Methods: Students in randomly selected schools in Jaipur were studied. Students in classes 9-12 (age 13-18 years, boys 2866, girls 939) were enrolled. Medical social workers filled in information regarding presence of smoking and other forms of tobacco use among these children. Details of presence of tobacco use among family members, awareness of harms of tobacco and proactive role of children were also inquired.
Results: Fifty nine boys (2.1%, 95% confidence interval 1.5% to 2.6%) and 16 girls (1.7%, 0.9% to 2.5%) agreed to current tobacco use. Smoking cigarettes or bidis was present in 43 boys (1.5%, 72.8% of users) and 8 girls (0.8%, 50.0% of users). Smoking or tobacco use was present in immediate family of 1208 boys (42.1%) and 304 girls (32.4%) (p<0.001) but was significantly more in family of children who used tobacco (boys 51/59, 86.4%, girls 11/16, 68.8%). 2842 boys (99.2%) boys and 934 girls (99.5%) were aware that tobacco use is harmful and similar proportions disliked it. More than 90% students were aware of its importance in causing respiratory diseases and the majority of boys and girls, respectively, knew of its potential to cause general debility (55.7%, 54.1%), heart disease (56.8%, 58.3%), cancer (64.6%, 64.6%), impotence (40.9%, 23.2%), ulcer of stomach (48.1%, 46.4%) and death (68.2%, 68.1%). 76.4% boys and 75.7% girls considered quitting to smoke beneficial and 77.1% boys and 75.8% girls knew that passive smoking is bad. 75.7% boys and 75.0% girls would insist that no-one smokes in their presence. 1592 boys (55.5%) and 507 girls (54.0%) remembered seeing tobacco related advertisement in news-paper and could recall name of the brand. 57.2% boys and 62.4% girls agreed to participate in a tobacco-awareness and cessation program, however only 5.2% of the students had attempted tobacco-control among family or peers.
Conclusions: There is low prevalence of smoking and tobacco use in school children in Jaipur. Awareness of harmful effects of tobacco is high.