Over 26 % young population smoke in Kashmir

Srinagar Oct 25: Mohammad Ashraf’s son started smoking with his friends when he was in school. When he reached higher secondary, he started taking Charas.

“Had I managed to stop him from smoking at school level, he would not have become a drug addict. I am now worried about his future as he is not able to leave drugs,” he told news agency KINS.

According to government figures, over 26 percent of men in the age group of 15-49 smoke cigarettes in Kashmir.

Experts say the use of tobacco is a serious public health issue in the valley as smoking is often associated with cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Dr Bashir Ahmad, a physician said cigarette smoking in childhood and adolescence leads to short and long-term health problems, besides increasing the risk for drug addiction.

“Those who are drug addicts have started cigarette smoking at an early age. At the same instance for students whose parents smoke it is easier to start smoking. If an adolescent’s parent smokes, the adolescent himself also may become a smoker,” he added.

A senior government official said they have banned smoking at public places and also near educational institutions.

“Besides, directions have been issued to all the Medical Superintendents and District Health Officers of Kashmir division for conducting regular enforcement drives for implementation of COTPA-2003. Regular enforcement drives for implementation of COTPA-2003 are being conducted by the State Tobacco Control Cell in Kashmir division,” the official added.

Experts say that teenagers that face problems in their social or family life are more likely to initiate smoking. (KINS)