‘Sending Children To Buy Tobacco Products Is The Worst Thing Parents Can Do’ - Eastern Mirror
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‘Sending children to buy tobacco products is the worst thing parents can do’

By Menuse-O Max Khieya Updated: Jun 02, 2023 2:04 am

KOHIMA— It is not uncommon to see Naga parents and elders sending children to shops to buy tobacco products, including cigarettes for them. And few shopkeepers, who were caught selling such items to minors during a sting operation conducted by this newspapers in Kohima and Dimapur (stories of which published in May 31 and June 1 issues), found this as a perfect excuse to break the law.

However, Medical Officer In-Charge of Urban Primary Health Centre (UPHC) Seikhazou Dr. Bilva Yalie, denounced such irresponsible behaviour by elders, saying that it familiarize tobacco products to children.

“Sending children to buy tobacco products is the worst thing parents can do as it is like saying ‘go buy that poison for me’,” she said.

Children are getting exposed to tobacco as it is easily accessible while the elders use it openly even if they know the dangers about such toxic substances as displayed on the covers, she said, adding that many elders are unconcerned about the consequences and ill-impact their behavior can have on children.

‘If the society imparts negative values, it can have detrimental effects on the development and upbringing of children,’ she cautioned.

Another doctor said: “Small children get exposed to tobacco products while buying for the elders and out of curiosity, which is the basic nature of the kids, they taste the tobacco products and in this way, they become addicted to it as it contains nicotine which is a very addictive substance.”

‘Adolescents want to try new things’

Dr. Bilva Yalie said that while children get easily familiarized with tobacco, adolescents get more exposure to it as they are in the age of experimentation.

“All kinds of risky behaviours happen only in teenagers because the brain is not completely developed. So, that makes them try new challenges not really caring about the consequences,” she said. “Unless they see the consequences of their action being done somewhere, they will continue to do it.”

She said that children will be hesitant to take tobacco if there are people in their environment who do not use it even though such products are available in the shops.

“It is the surroundings, it is the accessibility, it is the family set up, it is the whole environment the children are in that makes them go for it more,” she said, adding, “The behavioral change is very important here; so that is how they easily get familiarize with tobacco products”.

While recalling a 9-year-old tobacco patient from a low income who visited her for treatment, the doctor said most children start consuming tobacco items as they are surrounded by elders who use it.

She said tobacco is commonly used by young age groups beginning from middle adolescence.

She added that some young people had told her they didn’t mind taking talab, a chewing tobacco, claiming that it has no nicotine and chewed by many.

‘They think they know it and they have no intention of quitting it, but when I told about the harmful effects of the product, they got hesitant,’ she said.

‘There is hesitancy but they have no issue eating it because they are surrounded by people consuming such products,’ she added.

“We talk about teachers, elders not using it (tobacco), but there may be people in the family and others around them using tobacco,” she said. “The simple fact is that it (tobacco) is so easily available.”

Sale of tobacco products to students

Dr. Bilva Yalie wondered what actions the authourities have taken on shopkeepers selling tobacco products to students, referring to the findings sting operation conducted by this newspaper on the eve of World No Tobacco Day.

She said the vendors have been openly selling harmful products to children without even asking their age as they knew that no actions would be taken against them.

‘Has anybody imposed fine on defaulters? Has anybody taken action against them?’ she asked, while maintaining shopkeepers will continue to sell tobacco products to minors because there is no fear of consequences.

Unless there is a behavioural change and good communication as well as take stringent action on people who sell tobacco products to children, “there will be no change”, she said.

Also read: Nagaland reports 700 new tobacco-related cancer cases

By Menuse-O Max Khieya Updated: Jun 02, 2023 2:04:29 am
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