The top factors that drew teens to tobacco use, were exposure to smoking in public places, tv and online adverts, and having access to free products.

Titled, “The predictors of cigarette smoking, smokeless tobacco consumption and use of both forms in adolescents in South Asia: a secondary analysis of the Global Youth Tobacco Surveys (GYTS),” the study was led by the University of York. It analysed data from the Global Youth Tobacco survey on the tobacco use of just under 24,000 adolescents in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri-Lanka, with the aim of determining the main drivers of tobacco use within this age group.

A total of 2% of the participants were cigarette smokers, 6.5% were smokeless tobacco products (ST) users, and 1.1% used both. The researchers found that amongst the top factors that drew teens to tobacco use, were exposure to smoking in public places, tv and online adverts, and having access to free products.

On the other hand, shopkeepers’ refusal to sell cigarettes to minors was an efficient protective factor, as were educational anti-tobacco use programmes in schools. Less effective were anti-tobacco mass media messages.

“The associations between tobacco use and pro-tobacco factors were strong but the associations with anti-tobacco factors lacked strength and consistency in this study population,” concluded the researchers.

Policy makers should consult such data when considering tobacco measures

Lead study author, Dr. Masuma Mishu from the Global Health research team in the Department of Health Sciences, at the University of York, said that these findings should be consulted by policy makers. “Our study provides important insights on several wider environmental factors that are associated with tobacco use among adolescents in South Asia, which is backed up by robust analysis.”

“The study provides a vital message for policy makers that the current form of anti-tobacco media campaigns are unlikely to work on young people in South Asia and suggests evidence on the effectiveness of being taught at school about the harmful effects of tobacco is also inconsistent.”

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