Tamil Nadu: Call for annual survey of school students using tobacco

Activists also urged that the government should ensure that every educational institution is declared tobacco-free
Read details here | (Photo: Edex Live)
Read details here | (Photo: Edex Live)

Tamil Nadu’s civil society organisations have urged the state government to conduct an annual survey to collect statistics on children affected by drugs including tobacco in the state amidst concerns over the use of tobacco and drugs by school students, said a report by The New Indian Express.

At a state-level consultation meeting held in Chennai on Wednesday, January 10, the organisations said that an action plan should be prepared based on the statistics and implementation should be monitored.

The consultation was organised by the Tamil Nadu People's Forum for Tobacco Control (TNPFTC), Centre for Child Rights and Development, and Madras School of Social Work, TNIE reported.

To recall, in the recently held school management committee meetings, several schools had raised concerns about the rise in the use of tobacco products among students and also passed resolutions.

"We demand an amendment in the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations, 2011, to completely and permanently ban all the chewable tobacco products in the state," the TNPFTC said.

Cyril Alexander, Convenor of TNPFTC, said that the banned tobacco products are more prevalent in the state now.

“This is because the ban was quashed by the high court in January 2023 and came back only in May. In the four months, large quantities of banned tobacco products were stocked in the state. There is precedent as Goa has permanently banned the products by amending the Act. Tamil Nadu should also permanently ban gutka products,” Alexander said, while speaking at the meeting.

Tobacco-free schools

Activists also urged that the government should ensure that every educational institution is declared tobacco-free. According to a survey conducted among students, in the age group of 13-17 years in three districts of Tamil Nadu by the Institute of Social Education in 2021, 9% of school kids were found to be addicted to intoxicants, they said.

Speaking at the meeting, K Krishna Raj, joint director of public health and preventive medicine, said that 18,000 schools are yet to be declared tobacco-free and it is being done gradually.

In August last year, the school education secretary asked all the educational institutions to create anti-drug clubs in all the schools to create awareness about drug abuse. Membership to the clubs is voluntary for students from Class IX onwards, TNIE added.

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