The government has forgot to arrange for a follow up on COTPA act as no mechanism has been put in place to curtail the use of tobacco especially among the younger generation. The hazards of smoking are known to all. Smoking cigarettes is a known health hazard however, for obvious reasons the governments both at the federal or the state level have failed to act against it.
But when it comes to a place like Jammu and Kashmir cigarettes have proved to be more devilish as it has affected the younger population to the hilt. The issue has become so grave that cigarette smoking is proving to be a stepping stone for various other drug abuses that are prevalent among the younger population.
As of now Kashmir valley is witnessing increased use of psychotropic medicines and other drugs. A study conducted last year revealed that a majority of the people using drugs in Kashmir fall in the age group of 10-20 years, the age at which a person starts taking drugs also has been becoming lower in the recent past.
Data sourced from department of psychiatry of the Government Medical College Srinagar reveals that 76.8 percent of people abusing drugs are between the ages of 10 to 20 years. And 94.4 percent of those found to be abusing drugs start with cigarettes.
Various studies conducted to check drug and substance abuse have pointed out that for most people, substance abuse started like that – curiosity, stress, thrill, quest accompanied by availability of drugs and lack of supervision and reprimand.
However, what is more shocking is that the age of starting substance abuse is lowering every year. The recent experiences from the Drug De-addiction centre (DAC) in Srinagar reveals that children as young as eight years have a brush with substances of abuse.
The most abused substance in this age group is inhalants and solvents. A study by a postgraduate student of psychiatry found that 70 percent of people abusing inhalants used Fevicol SR.
Substance use is a hugely complex problem and most of the questions that one may seek to redress the issue go unanswered. However, multiple factors including biological predisposition, development and social context interplay to lead to this complex behavior.
However, one major reason for the increased prevalence of substance abuse is considered the weakening family bonds and deteriorating societal set-up.
The social context seemed to be playing pivotal role in increasing number of substance users in young children in Kashmir. Social correlates like peer pressure, parent-child conflict, child physical and sexual abuse, family dysfunction, scholastic failure, estrangement from teachers and deviant networking because of social networking sites were all working towards creating a drug crisis here in the valley.
All this needs an immediate attention from us as we cannot let the posterity to go wandering in despair and desolation.
Our society has accepted the fact that the modern family set-up, where both the parents were working and there was hardly any time being spent with children is an accepted norm. This phenomenon has predisposed our younger generation to risky behavior including cigarettes and substance abuse. We have to rise to the occasion and get things to run on proper tracks. Today is the time to act, tomorrow may be too late.