Education Against Tobacco starts in Nepal
Education Against Tobacco was founded this week in Nepal by medical student Samriddha Raj Pant.
Samriddha, please introduce yourself.
“My name is Samriddha Raj Pant. I am a 22 year old medical student from Nepal. Within the medical field, my interest lies in orthopedics and trauma surgery. In my free time, I play cricket for my home university.”
What motivates you to found Education Against Tobacco in Nepal?
“I have grown up in a society that labelled smoking as fashionable. During my childhood there were lots of tobacco advertisements, with lots of contacts who smoked. My friends during our school days took up smoking too, hiding it from their supervisors only to regret later on as. Even people from my family who smoked left smoking step by step once health statutory warnings popped up. This made me realize how big the loophole of taking up tobacco is and that if someone needs to be stopped, it is in their school years. This has motivated me to found the project.”
What are your next steps?
“For every program to run smoothly, finance is a must. As I am almost done with the coordinators selection, my immediate next step would be to raise funds for the programs. Curriculum development (slight add-ons to the already wonderful curriculum, to target adolescents in Nepal) shall go on simultaneously. Once we have secured enough funds, I plan to start off the Education Against Tobacco in schools within our city.”
Which schools will you focus on?
“In our first phase, we will be focusing on secondary schools within our capital and in the suburbs around the city. My personal choice on the types of school to focus on would be community schools (like the ones I grew up studying in), as the socio-economic backdrop of the students is relatively weaker than those in private schools. Also, the not-so-strict laws in these schools holds the children liable to take up tobacco for fun or through peer pressure. For comparative studies, I would take up private schools too, but I would like to start the program from community, government funded schools.”
What is the smoking prevalence in your country among adolescents?
“Current statistics show a low level of smoking prevalence (3-6%) among adolescents in our country, but the real data would be higher. Along with that, there are a lot of adolescents taking up chewed tobacco. The statistics show almost 20% of adolescents indulged in chewing tobacco. So our focus will be more directed to chewing tobacco rather than conventional cigarettes.”