The report, which was handed over to the Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings on Thursday, said students attending 25 public schools here were questioned during the 2015 survey conducted by the Pan American Health organisation/ World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO).
The Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) is a standardised tool used to collect data on tobacco use among youths around the world. This survey is conducted every four years however the last study in Guyana was in 2010.
The report identified and highlighted facts gathered after surveys were conducted in 25 public schools in Guyana. The survey revealed that one in every three students, approximately 30 per cent, had used tobacco at some point while one in every six students or 14.8 per cent, are currently using tobacco products.
More specifically, one in every nine students, -11.7 per cent – currently smoke tobacco products, while 45.3 per cent of students, accounting for almost half of the students surveyed had smoked a cigarette before the age of 12.
The survey found that more than a third or 42.7 per cent of all students had tried smoking between the ages of 12 and 13 while 62 per cent of the current smokers within the surveyed age range were showing signs of smoking dependency.
With regards to exposure to second hand smoke, 18.5 per cent of students were exposed at home while one in three students had been exposed to second hand smoke in public places. The survey found that 28.9 per cent of all surveyed students have been exposed to second hand smoke in and/or around a school building.
Consultant Dr. Morris Edwards said “students who smoke express the desire to quit smoking and many have even attempted to quit however, the tools weren’t there so with the proper assistance and tools these students can stop smoking forever.
“Easy statement but we recognize that you have to deal with the addictive part of nicotine,” he added.
Government said that the findings would be used to help develop more public education campaigns targeting young people.
“If we are going to work towards significantly reducing and hopefully eradicating tobacco use in our society, it is important that we begin to target our youth population. Empirical data has revealed that most young smokers become adult smokers,” Cummings said.
She said that all stakeholders must work together to address the social, biological, and environmental factors that influence young people to use tobacco. Recommendations coming from the report indicate that school rules and policies should be framed for the prevention and control of tobacco use.
Cummings, who focused her brief remarks on the public health dangers of tobacco use and smoke, pointed out that with the passage and robust enforcement of tobacco legislation in Guyana, the harmful effects of tobacco use will be significantly reduced over time, resulting in a further reduction of the prevalence of certain chronic non-communicable diseases.
- Countries: Guyana