Background: Tobacco usage is addictive and causative for several diseases and premature death. Concerted efforts by the individual and society are needed for control and for surveillance. The habit is initiated during early youth and this age group requires constant monitoring and timely appropriate action to curtail usage. The WHO FCTC has recommended actions to monitor and limit the tobacco use in young age groups. One of the actions is to examine the prevalence of tobacco habits in school children 13-15 years of age and of personnel employed in schools.
Methods: WHO & CDC designed the study systems for Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) and Global School Personnel Survey (GSPS). In 2006 we conducted GYTS and GSPS in several parts of the country. The schools were chosen by strict sampling procedure and a well structured, self-administered questionnaire was used to obtain information on tobacco usage from 13 to 15 year old students of chosen schools and personnel of these schools.
Results: Current use of any tobacco product was 14.1% among students (17.3% boys, 9.8% girls) and among school personnel it was 29.2%(35.0% males and 13.7% females). The prevalence was highest among male students in North East (34%) and the lowest was 4.9% among female students of western states. Cigarettes and Bidi smoking were more prevalent among boys. Smokeless tobacco use prevalence rate varied between 20% and 4.5% among boys and between 21.5% and 1.6% among girl students. Among male school personnel, the prevalence varied from 57.9% in NE to 25.7% in South. Among females 26.5% were tobacco users in the NE and in Western region it was 6.6%.
Conclusion: It is essential to adopt forceful strategies, which are area specific, in order to undo the harm inflicted by tobacco use upon the individuals &society. Periodic surveys for surveillance of trends are essential to evaluate the outcome of programmes among students and school personnels.