Survey finds tobacco use among 14.8% of students aged 13 to 15

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A survey conducted among 1,000 students, aged 13 to 15, found that 14.8% of them reported current use of tobacco products, while over half of them obtained cigarettes from stores, shops or street vendors.

According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) Fact Sheet for Guyana, which was published as an advertisement in the Saturday, August 5 edition of Stabroek News, tobacco use was reported by 19% of the boys and 10.4% of the girls who were surveyed.

The Fact Sheet stated that the local GYTS was conducted in 2015 by the ministries of Public Health and Education. While a total of 1,697 eligible students in forms 1, 2 and 3 completed the survey, the data was only reported for 1,000 students aged 13 to 15.

Among the findings that were highlighted was that 11.7% of students, including 16.1% of boys and 7.5% of girls, were at the time “current smokers” of tobacco. It added that 8.6% of students, representing 13.3% of boys and 3.8% of girls, were current users of cigarettes, while 4.1% of students, comprising 4.6% of boys and 3% of girls were using smokeless tobacco. It was noted that 9% of students, comprising 9.3% of the boys and 8% of the girls, were current users of electronic cigarettes.

It was also found that 7 in 10 of the current smokers tried to stop in the previous 12 months and the same number reported wanting to stop at the time of the survey.

In the area of access and availability, the survey found that 54.5% of current cigarette smoking students obtained cigarettes by buying them from a store, shop, street vendor or kiosk, while 48.9% of them reported that they were not stopped from buying cigarettes because of their age.

Looking at knowledge and attitudes, the survey found that 58.1% of the students “definitely thought” that other people’s tobacco smoking was harmful to them, while 56% favoured banning smoking inside enclosed public spaces.

It was also found that 18.5% of the students were exposed to tobacco smoke at home, while 28.6% of them were exposed to it in enclosed public spaces.

In relation to the media, it was noted that more than 4 in 10 students noticed anti-tobacco messages. Additionally, 3 in 10 students noticed tobacco ads or promotions when visiting points of sale, while almost 2 in 10 reported owning something with a tobacco brand logo on it.

According to the Fact Sheet, the GYTS, which is a component of the Global Tobacco Surveillance System, is a global standard for systematically monitoring youth tobacco use and tracking key tobacco indicators. It is described a nationally-representative school-based survey that is designed to produce cross-sectional estimates for each country.

The Fact Sheet said the GYTS assists countries in fulfilling their World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control obligations. Guyana, which acceded to the Convention in September, 2005, recently passed anti-tobacco legislation as part of the requirements. One of the five components of the bill was the prevention of youth initiation to tobacco use.

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