Smoking on the rise among schoolgirls
KARACHI, Sept 26: A high incidence of smoking has been found among
schoolgirls in the metropolis, according to a research study that recommends a
complete ban on tobacco ads and strict enforcement of the anti-tobacco health
The research study says the strategy has been proved
successful in bringing down the rate of tobacco use in countries like the United
Kingdom and Brazil.
The research study titled, Tobacco use among
adolescent females in Pakistan, has been recently conducted by Dr Javaid A.
Khan, Dr Suleman Haq and Dr Hammad Ganatra of the Pulmonary and Critical Care
Medicine Department of Aga Khan University. The report will be published soon in
the International Journal of TB and Lung Disease.
Under the survey, a
sample of 644 girls attending grades 8 to 12 in government and private schools
has been taken from Clifton, Gulshan-i-Iqbal and the PECHS.
shows that 16.3 per cent students smoked at least once in their life and 30-day
prevalence of smoking was found in 6.4 per cent students. The research also
refers to another study that puts the figure of smoking prevalence among
adolescent schoolboys at 13.7 per cent.
Highest in South Asia
Comparing the prevalence of 6.4pc with the Global Youth Tobacco
Survey (GYTS)-India, it was found higher than the figures reported in 13 out of
18 cities in India. Besides, the prevalence in Pakistan's coastal city was the
highest among all other South Asian countries, including Indonesia, Myanmar,
Nepal and Sri Lanka, reported by the GYTS. According to the research report, 438
girls from private schools and 206 from government schools were surveyed. The
mean age of students was calculated as 15.29. The number of smokers was found
the highest in the age group of 15-year-old girls.
Started with a
The most popular first smoking companion was a friend,
followed closely by a first-degree family member. The commonest mode of
acquiring cigarettes was home, followed by borrowing from someone and purchasing
from a shop near home.
Among 57 students, who tried buying cigarettes,
less than half were refused due to their underage by the shopkeepers. The fact
that majority of the students managed to buy cigarettes without any problem
indicates that the relevant laws have been ineffective in controlling the sale
of tobacco products to underage customers.
The commonest place for
smoking was a friend's house. When asked if any of their family members was a
smoker, around 41 per cent of the girls who smoke replied in the affirmative and
put the blame on their fathers.
Ironically, the smokers had good
knowledge about the hazards of tobacco and more than 80 per cent girls were
already aware of the fact that smoking could cause oral cancer, asthma, chronic
cough, lung cancer and oral sub-mucosal fibrosis.
Among the surveyed
girls, twelve admitted that they used other drugs. Of them, 83 per cent said
they first tried cigarettes.
A symbol of freedom
attributes high prevalence of smoking among adolescent females to western
lifestyle, changing societal roles and attitudes towards women.
among women which was once considered to be associated with loose character and
immoral behaviour has now become a symbol of freedom for women in developing
countries, partly due to the powerful yet subtle messages sent across by tobacco
advertisements," it says.
It says that apparently tobacco companies have
changed their marketing strategies by shifting their focus towards previously
untapped markets in the developing world.
"For decades, the tobacco
industry has successfully marketed its products to women in developed countries.
But women and girls in Asia now represent the single largest product marketing
opportunity in the world which can be easily exploited," it remarks. Referring
to World Health Organization and GYTS findings, it underlines the need to
counter the current tobacco advertising and marketing practices which are aimed
at young women.
"These young females should be provided an alternative
image of independence and self-confidence. At the same time, they should be
educated about the effects of tobacco on health, particularly reproductive," the
Popularity of Sheesha
factor, the study identifies, may be the increasing popularity of Sheesha
(flavoured tobacco smoked in water pipes). Studies have shown that there is a
common belief among people that Sheesha is less injurious to health as compared
to cigarettes, which might lead to higher rates of tobacco consumption in this
"wat is the demerits of smoking among girls? it is true that the blood pressure become low of girls smokers and harmonies level become high."
City, Country: karachi, Pakistan