Smoking among students has fallen: study

PESHAWAR, May 25(Dawn): The prevalence of smoking among university students has decreased from 34 per cent in 2003 to 25 per cent in 2006, according to a study.

The study was conducted jointly by pulmonology ward of the Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH), psychology department of the Peshawar University and the Abaseen Foundation.

Just under 1,190 students belonging to the Khyber Medical College, the University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar, and various departments of the Peshawar university took part in the survey.

According to the study, smoking among girls decreased by 5 per cent during the period under review.

The study found that on an average a student spent Rs40 per day on buying cigarettes.

The study in question is the third one conducted by the same team that is headed by head of the KTH's pulmonology ward Dr Mukhtar Zaman Afridi.

A study conducted in 2000 had found that of the total 511 people questioned, of whom 384 were men and 127 women, 19.7 per cent men and 0.18 per cent women smoked.

A similar study carried out in 2003 showed that of the 436 students, including 337 males and 95 females who took part in the survey, 33.8 per cent males and 5 per cent females smoked. Smoking among students registered a decline in 2006, with 24.5 males and 0.6 per cent females acknowledging that they smoked.

The study claimed that most of the students who smoked said that they had been influenced by smokers in their families (87 per cent) and they were between six and 17 years of age when they started smoking.

The 2006 study had shown that of the total 234 smokers, 163 acknowledged that it caused cancer, while 33 disagreed and 21 declined to comment. Similarly 149 knew that smoking caused asthma and 174 were aware that it caused breathing problems. One hundred and sixty-seven of them also knew that tobacco use caused teeth- and gum-related problems.

It said that 105 smokers acknowledged risks to their health because of the habit, while 85 cared little about its hazards.

It said that awareness about the hazards to pregnant women and infants posed by cigarette use was found among the 154 smokers. The family income of students who indulged in smoking was found to be above Rs1,000 a month.

It said that awareness about cigarettes' injurious effects had risen, about 85 per cent of the university students knew about health warnings printed on cigarette packets.

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