The covid-19 pandemic has meant that many sectors have witnessed a grave neglect because the will and effort needed to tackle some grave crisis like situations have escaped the administrations attention.
One such is the use and sale of tobacco related products in Jammu and Kashmir. The region is witnessing increased use of tobacco products and mostly the end users of such products are the young populace that has been resorting to increased use of this deadly product.
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 and the state and UT level have fail 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 here.
As of now Kashmir valley is witnessing increased use of psychotropic medicines and other drugs. A study conducted few months back revealed that a majority of the people involved in drug abuse 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 and consumtion of tobacco 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.
All this starts with the use of cigarette primarily out of curiosity and later addiction. One fails to understand as to why orders restricting sale of loose cigarettes and tobacco is being ignored across Jammu and Kashmir. Even sale of tobacco products is being allowed near schools and colleges and the COTPA act that prevents such sale is being dumped and ignored.
The social context seemed to be playing pivotal role in increasing number of young tobacco users 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 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. The administration too needs to act fast as the use of tobacco is growing with vendors paying no need to the ban imposed on sale of loose cigarettes.