Sunday, June 10, 2007

Smoking has no age bar in Bangalore!

Smoking of tobacco seem to have been replete with many irrespective of ages, if not everywhere atleast in Bangalore. The reigning pub city has also nurturing more number of smokers in its vicinity. The school dropouts, dwelling on the platforms are more prone to smoking. Crowded areas such as Majestic, Railway Station, K R Market areas have been grooming such kids.
As the whole world is gearing up to celebrate anti tobacco day on May 31, the World Health Organisation has released startling statistics of smokers across the world. According to WHO estimation, "Majority of smokers begin tobacco use before they reach adulthood. Among those young people who smoke, nearly one-quarter smoked their first cigarette before they reached the age of ten." Further the study says, "Around 30 per cent of children smoked their first whole cigarette before age 10 in India."
For a 15-year old Zameer working at choultry in Sheshadripuram, smoking is a routine task and his trouser pockets have been filled with either beedies or half smoked cigarettes. Refusing to show off his smoking skills Zameer said that he picked up the habit four years back from couple of his friends while working at the choultry. Out of Rs 80 per day that he gets at the choultry, Rs 20 is spent on cigaretts and tobacco products. He is not just one to find and in fact there are scores of kids trailing on his path oblivious of the perils.
Meticulous on his traits, Zameer has chosen his friends cautiously to safegaurd his habit of smoking. His smoking friends Nasir, Babu, Ayush are also cooperative and assemble at a park near the Majestic and spend prolonged hours in enjoying the smoke. "In a day I smoke around 10 to 12 cigarettes. Sometimes we also go for beedis which are cost effective." Even though selling of tobacco and its products to children is prohibited, these kids have never had any problem in buying these products. "We get all around Majestic, street side hawkers. In all Pan shops we get cigaretts and come back to the park and enjoy smoking."
Dr R M Lalita of M S Ramaiah Dental College opines that, "The trend must be taken care of as the age group is vulnerable to disorders like tuberculosis, oral cancer. In fact the graph of Oral cancer cases is fast surging up and effective measures have to be taken up to prevent youngsters from succumbing to tobacco use."
Fancy beliefs and myths may have propelled these to take up smoke but who will take up the task of inculcating awareness among these youngsters?
Photo by S S Kumar