Bad example: Three out of 10 teachers hooked to tobacco

NEW DELHI: This is one lesson that India's youngsters should avoid learning from their teachers.

NEW DELHI: This is one lesson that India's youngsters should avoid learning from their teachers. In a shocking revelation, the Union Health Ministry's Global School Personnel Survey 2006 has found that teachers, who are actually expected to deter students from taking up smoking, are themselves tobacco addicts. The survey conducted with technical assistance from Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta, and World Health Organization among 3,629 teachers from 180 schools says 3 out of 10 school personnel (29.2%) use tobacco products - Cigarettes, beedis and gutkas. While over 50% of the teachers and clerks from schools in the north-eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura were found to use tobacco products, the number stood at almost 40% of teachers from Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. What's worse, one-fourth (25.1%) of the school personnel reported smoking or chewing tobacco on the school premises. Once again, teachers from the north-eastern and eastern states led from the front with the prevalence ranging from 15% in the central region to 42% in the north-eastern states. While over 1 in 10 (12.8%) school personnel reported smoking Cigarettes at present, nearly 2 in 10 school personnel (23.7%) reported use of tobacco products other than Cigarettes. The report pinpoints the south, north and north-eastern regions as seeing an alarming trend — there was no significant difference between the number of males and females using tobacco products. According to the survey that took one year to complete, 6 out of 10 schools do not follow a tobacco-free policy. While 48.4% schools in the north don't allow smoking within their campuses, the number stands at just 22% schools in the east. Nearly 4 in 5 school personnel reported never having received training to prevent the youth from tobacco use. Almost 2 in 3 school personnel reported their schools did not have non classroom alcohol control activities. They also said they had no access to teaching materials on tobacco. The report, which will be released by Health Minister A Ramadoss on Thursday, concludes, "High prevalence of tobacco use among school personnel is alarming. Indication of increasing use among girls in some regions is a matter of concern. Passing the Tobacco Control Act in 2003 is a milestone and the need of the hour is effective enforcement of the law." kounteya.sinha@timesgroup.com

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