Evaluation of a Specially Designed Tobacco Control Program to Reduce Tobacco Use among School Children in Kerala

  • Published : 2013.06.30


Background: Smoking and smokeless tobacco use are almost always initiated and established during adolescence. More than 80% of adult smokers begin smoking before 18 years of age. The main objective of the present study is to assess the feasibility of preventing adolescent tobacco use with the help of a specially designed tobacco control program. Materials and Methods: A cross sectional survey on tobacco use and related health effects was conducted using a structured questionnaire in 13 randomly selected schools in Kannur district of Kerala. These students were followed for a period of one academic year with multiple spaced interventions such as anti-tobacco awareness classes, formation of anti-tobacco task forces, inter-school competitions, supplying IEC (information, education and communication) materials and providing a handbook on tobacco control for school personnel. Final evaluation was at the end of one year. Results: There were 4,144 school children who participated in the first phase of the study. The prevalence of tobacco smoking and chewing habits were 9.85% and 2.24% respectively. Ninety-one percent had parental advice against tobacco use and only 3.79% expressed desire for future tobacco use. The final evaluation witnessed a sharp decline in the current tobacco use as 4.68%. We observed a statistically significant difference towards the future use of tobacco (p<0.001) and awareness about the ill effects of passive smoking (p<0.001) among boys and girls. Further a significantly increased knowledge was observed among boys compared to girls about tobacco and oral cancer (p=0.046). Conclusions: The comprehensive school based tobacco control project significantly reduced the tobacco use pattern in the target population. School tobacco projects incorporating frequent follow ups and multiple interventions appear more effective than projects with single intervention.


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