GYTS 2015 completed and delivered – persistent use of tobacco use in schools highlighted
DPI, Guyana, Thursday, August 10, 2017
Minister within the ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, today received the official report on the recently completed Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) 2015. The survey was conducted by the Pan American World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO). The 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. Among these is the continued use of tobacco in schools among students between the ages of 13 to 15.
Among other facts, the survey revealed that one in every three students, which is approximately 30 percent had used tobacco at some point while one in every six students (14.8 percent) are currently using tobacco products.
More specifically, one in every nine students, (11.7 percent) currently smoke tobacco products. 45.3 percent of students, which accounts for almost half of the students surveyed had smoked a cigarette before the age of 12.
More than a third, 42.7 percent of all students had tried smoking between the ages of 12 and 13 while 62 percent 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 percent of students were exposed at home while one in three students were exposed to second hand smoke in public places. 28.9 percent of all surveyed students have been exposed to second hand smoke in and/or around a school building.
These and other findings have galvanised the Ministry of Public Health into action, targetting more youths for health promotions against the use of tobacco. Minister Cummings said that, “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.”
She added that all must work together to address the social, biological, and environmental factors that influence young people to use tobacco. Recommendations coming from the report indicates that school rules and policies should be framed for the prevention and control of tobacco use.
Minister 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.
Dr. Morris Edwards who was the consultant for the survey report 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.”
In 2000, Guyana conducted its first round of the GYTS, which was the first nationally representative study on tobacco use among young people. Guyana is one of only a few countries in the Americas to have completed four rounds of the GYTS (2000, 2004, 2010 and 2015).
The report was handed over to Minister Cummings during a brief ceremony held at the Marriott Hotel Thursday.
By: Delicia Haynes