Thiruvananthapuram: School-based tobacco control programmes have significant potential in reducing tobacco use among adolescents, says a new study.
The finding, published as a research paper in the prestigious Indian Journal of Paediatrics, comes just as schools brace to enforce the Kerala High Court's directions on tobacco control in the new academic year.
The paper, based on a review of literature on school-based tobacco-control programmes, has found that overall tobacco use among school-going adolescents decreased by 17 percent after the intervention.
The sample in the study covered 14,063 students from 32 schools in Delhi and Chennai.
The intervention included measures such as behavioural classroom curricula, school posters, parental involvement and peer-led activism.
In contrast, tobacco-use among adolescents increased by 68 percent in the control group, which did not receive any intervention.
The authors of the review paper -- Monika Arora, Manu Raj Mathur and Neha Singh -- have also proposed an IMPACT model for tobacco control among adolescents and children.
IMPACT, acronym for 'Intervention model for protecting adolescents and children against tobacco' advocates a three-tier intervention strategy comprising policy level, community level and individual level approaches.
The authors point out that adolescents and youth play a critical role in causing a norm to change in communities, and form a large and important segment of the population.
"School-based intervention accompanied with youth advocacy would provide sustained benefits for tobacco control at community as well as individual level," notes the study.
The Kerala High Court, in a judgment on March 26, 2012, directed strict implementation of the prohibition on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products around educational institutions and directed the state government to ensure that no tobacco products are sold within 100 yards of educational institutions.
Director of Public Instructions A. Shajahan said stern directions have been given to all schools to hold monthly meetings of school protection committees and to liaise with the police to ensure that there is no sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of the institution.
"This new study shows encouraging results for school-based tobacco control interventions," Shajahan said.
Noted paediatrician T. Suresh Kumar said that static tobacco control warning boards in schools will strengthen repetitive messaging, which is critical for preventing tobacco use.
"These warnings can leave behind enduring impressions about the dangers of tobacco use among the young," Kumar said.