NEW DELHI: Delhi’s State Tobacco Control Cell has urged the NCERT to incorporate a chapter on tobacco control in curriculums of the CBSE and other educational boards for classes 6 to 12. Additional director in the Health Department, Dr S K Arora, in a letter said 14.1 per cent students (up to age 15 years) currently use tobacco products, with 4.2 per cent students smoking cigarettes and 1.9 per cent using other tobacco products.
The use of chewable tobacco in various patterns was also increasing despite gutkha and chewable tobaccos being banned in Delhi, he said.
The WHO estimated that of the 1,000 teenagers who smoke currently, 500 would eventually die of tobacco-related diseases, Dr. Arora said.
Globally, most people start using or experimenting with tobacco before the age of 18 years. At this age the chances of getting addicted to tobacco products increase manifold, he said.
“…tobacco use is the gateway of other drug addictions.
As far as tobacco consumption among school staff/personnel is concerned, nearly 3 in 10 school personnel currently use tobacco products,” he said in the letter.
He said the Delhi government was already implementing tobacco-free initiative in educational institutes as per Government of India guidelines, the legal provisions of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003 (COTPA) and the Delhi Act 1996 but “school-going children were the most vulnerable group”.
There was an urgent need for regular sensitisation of students, teachers and parents and hence creating a chapter in the curriculum would help a lot, he said.
“We have requested the NCERT to incorporate tobbaco control matter as a chapter in the curriculum of the CBSE and other educational boards for classes 6 to 12,” he said.
Dr. Arora said the CBSE was ready, as per their communication, to include the subject but it was dependent on the NCERT as the CBSE prescribes textbooks published by the NCERT only.
“It is again stressed that protecting children and hence future generations from the menace of tobacco in the schoolgoing age is very important and will have a great public health impact throughout the country,” Dr. Arora said.