Smoking and children
- Cite this article as:
- Patel, D.R. Indian J Pediatr (1999) 66: 817. doi:10.1007/BF02723844
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Tobacco use by children and adolescents is a major health threat. A number of carcinogens and other harmful compounds have been identified in tobacco smoke. The major component, nicotine, is highly addictive. In India, approximately 5500 children and adolescents start using tobacco products daily, some as young as 10 years old. The majority of users have first tried tobacco prior to age 18. Children and adolescents are exposed to the harmful effects of nicotine from smoking or second hand smoke from others; and from use of smokeless tobacco. There is increased prevalence of respiratory disease, ear and sinus infections, asthma, oral disease, and many long-term complications such as cardiovascular disease and cancers due to tobacco use. Prevention and treatment strategies include behavioural approaches and pharmacotherapy. There is an increased urgency especially, for countries like India to address the problem of tobacco use by children and adolescents as the tobacco industry faces legal and public opinion obstacles in Western countries like United States. The medical practitioner can play an important role by implementing the preventive and treatment strategies in his or her practice.