Tobacco is a significant public health concern for youth in India. According to the 2009 Global Youth Tobacco Survey for India, 14.6% of youth use some form of tobacco. Tobacco use creates numerous, health risks that can seriously damage children’s well-being, even before they reach adulthood. Tobacco addiction is generally initiated during the adolescence. In addition to this, most of the school going children consume Areca nut (“supari”), which is easily available to them. It is the fourth most widely used psychoactive substance in the world and has also been classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). This usually acts as a gateway product to tobacco use.
Teenage students often experiment, given their curiosity and high levels of social influence. Lack of awareness about harm, pressure from the peers and influence from family members are important factors to initiate the use of smokeless tobacco. The easy availability, affordability and social acceptance of tobacco and areca nut adds to this behaviour. According to GYTS 15.5% of children who were non-users reported intent to start smoking.
LifeFirst School Cessation Program offers counseling services for the adolescents who consume tobacco or areca nut to help them quit their habit at schools. Six theme based group counseling sessions are conducted for the students who consume tobacco or areca nut. During the course of the session students learn about the ill effects of tobacco, coping mechanisms and refusal skills.
What does LifeFirst offer?
- Sensitisation of the Principal and teachers.
- Orientation of students, providing encouragement for voluntary registration for the service.
- Creating awareness among students about tobacco and its ill-effects.
- Interactive group counselling sessions and individual sessions, as per need.
- Behaviour modification to help students to consistently say no to tobacco, thus quit.
- Development of refusal skills.
- Periodic follow up.
- Monitoring and evaluation.
What will be your contribution?
- Support implementation of services within schools. Example – Providing space and logistical support for conducting sessions.