College students less aware of smoking hazards: Report


Himalayan News Service

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At a time when the anti-tobacco movement is gaining momentum with the endorsement of anti-tobacco bill, a study carried out by Nepal Health Research Council has shown that the student smokers are less aware of risks of cigarette smoking and its health consequences.

The study, published in the journal of Nepal Health Research Council, disseminated on Thursday, was carried out in Kathmandu Valley in February-March, 2011, among 340 students of seven private public health colleges.

Of the total 340 respondents, 33.3 percent had ever smoked cigarettes of which 68.5 percent were male. They smoked three cigarettes on an average.

The study reveals that non-smokers were more likely to report hazards of smoking and the prevalence rate of smoking is higher among students over 20 years of age.

The study explains that 60 percent of the smokers had already smoked over 100 cigarettes and 15 percent of them said they would not smoke next year. The study concludes that they might have been addicted to nicotine, citing a study that those who have smoked 100 cigarettes are more likely to be addictive to nicotine than those who haven’t reached the number.

The smokers undermine health consequences of smoking compared to the non-smokers, and the smokers of the developing countries are less aware of the health risks than those of the developed countries, read the report. It states that the country’s health education approaches focus only on long-term health effects of smoking, giving an impression to smokers that effects of smoking are seen only in the long-run.

Understanding the risk perceptions of smokers is necessary before implementing health education programmes and policies, the report pointed out. The effective anti-smoking messages should be used targeting the smokers, explaining them of harmful effects of every cigarette they smoke, it read.

The study says that ‘optimistic bias’ leads the smokers to view themselves as at less risk than others. Eighty-five percent smokers in this study were not sure about quitting cigarettes in the coming years.

The study concludes that the young people fail to realize the concept of every cigarette they smoke damages their health, while the government initiatives and other campaigns have not been able to reach out to the group and create awareness about hazards of smoking.

(Source: The Kathmandu Post)