Teens switching to bidis: Report

New Delhi: Nineteen per cent boys and eight per cent girls in the age group of 13-15 have used tobacco products in recent months, mostly in the form of non-commercially produced cigarettes such as bidis, hand-rolled cigarettes made of unprocessed tobacco wrapped in leaves, said a report.

According to the report by the Population Reference Bureau, the usage of such products has prevailed because they are relatively affordable, poorly regulated and easily obtained from street vendors and kiosks.

“Smokeless tobacco products and snuff are commonly used in some places are used more than cigarettes.The rising popularity of e-cigarettes is another concern, as these do not produce tobacco smoke but may still contain nicotine and other harmful substances. These devices are marketed to youth and are easily available online,” said the report.

“Myriad varieties in which tobacco is available in Asia, makes tobacco a very versatile product for adolescent and young people. Easy access to unregulated products like e-cigarettes and hukkah further exacerbates their vulnerability, said Monika Arora, Director, Health Promotion Division and Associate Professor, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).

According to Arora, India needs to step up enforcement of tobacco control policies to provide full protection to young people and introduce innovative prevention and cessation solutions to meet one of the NCD targets of 30 per cent reduction in tobacco use prevalence by 2025 that the country has adopted.

The report named “Addressing Non Communicable Disease Risk Factors Among Young People: Asia’s Window of Opportunity to Curb a Growing Epidemic” also poured light on the four main Non Communicable Diseases- cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, and cancers — are caused primarily by exposure to tobacco, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet, and too little exercise.

These behaviours often begin in adolescence or young adulthood and set the stage for NCDs later in life.