Nairobi — Preliminary findings have shown that tobacco use the usage of tobacco has remained prevalent despite the efforts done to avert the devastating health and environmental impacts of the drug.
In a study conducted in Nakuru, Kisumu, Mombasa and Nairobi Counties since March this year, 3 out of 10 youths use tobacco showing with a majority of them being university students.
While unleashing the preliminary findings Principal Secretary for Health Susan Mochache also pointed out that 11.6 percent of users are adult.
“This means that while 1 out of 10 adult Kenyans consume tobacco products, 3 out of 10 youth are consumers of tobacco products. Therefore, there is a higher percentage of users of tobacco and nicotine products among the University Students compared to the rest of populace in Kenya,” said Mochache.
6 out of 10 respondents were introduced to the vice by their friends and peers due to peer pressure with them playing a significant role in promoting the abuse of the drug.
“The majority of the respondents (44.8%) were influenced by their friends and a further 17.5% got initiated by their peers, while 26% were influenced by other elements such as use of social media,”Mochache stated.
The findings by Tobacco Control Board which involved 1,600 respondents revealed that children as young as 7 years get introduced to tobacco usage which exacerbates chances of tobacco usage among the young generation.
“The mean age of starting the use of tobacco and nicotine products is 21, with some children getting introduced to the practice as early as seven years of age,” Mochache stated.
The study has shown that ease accessibility to tobacco products like cigarettes and high peer pressure are among leading reasons why the usage of tobacco has been rampant drawing back the strides made to eliminate tobacco use.
“Slightly more than half of the respondents, 53.7%, indicated that awareness programmes were available around their residential areas, while 46.3% – and unexpectedly high number – said that these programs were not available. This calls for the stepping up of awareness programs,” the Health Principal Secretary stated.
According to the Ministry of Health’s STEPwise Survey for Non-communicable Diseases risk factors, tobacco use is the main preventable cause of death in Kenya.
It directly leads to the deaths of 9,000 Kenyans every year, and leaves thousands of others severely sick and disabled, awaiting death.
It is also one of the four risk factors raising the burden of NCDs in the country.