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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Gutkha Consumption and its Determinants among Secondary School Male Students

Author(s): K Mukherjee, R S Hadaye

Vol. 31, No. 3 (2006-07 - 2006-09)

K Mukherjee1, R S Hadaye2


The increasing rate of tobacco consumption in various forms in recent years can be viewed as an emerging epidemic. Youth in general and adolescents in particular fall prey to this habit with severe physical, psychological and economical implications1. 40% of the tobacco consumed in India is in the smokeless form (Pan, Panmasala, Zarda, Gutkha). The last two decades have seen a phenomenal growth in the smokeless tobacco industry. Gutkha has been proved to be carcinogenic2. The extensive marketing of gutkha has led to a widespread addiction amongst school-going children. Thus the present study was conducted with the following objectives:


  1. To determine the prevalence of gutkha chewing among male secondary school students in two schools of Mumbai.
  2. To correlate gutkha chewing habit with socio-economic status, friends and family influence, stress, academic grading and peer pressure.

Material and Methods

The present study is a cross-sectional study, carried out among 400 male secondary school students in Mumbai. The study was carried out from the period September 1999 to August 2000. The students were interviewed personally using the pre-tested interview schedule, during their free period with no teacher around. Confidentiality of respondents was maintained throughout the study. The student’s response to the different questions in the interview schedule was recorded and analysed.

Results and Discussion

The mean age of students in the study was 15 years. 54% of students belonged to the upper and upper middle class, 34.5% belonged to the lower middle and 11.5% belonged to the upper lower and lower class. The overall prevalence of gutkha consumption was 10%. Many of students consumed more than one brand. The commonest brand consumed by them was “Sikander”. Average duration of consumption of gutkha by the students was 9 months. 70% of students quoted peer pressure as the reason for initiation of gutkha chewing. The average number of gutkha sachets consumed per day among the chewers is three. 183 (46%) of students had first heard about gutkha from peers. Friend’s consumption of gutkha, stress, academic grading and peer pressure were significantly associated (p<0.001) with gutkha consumption.


The findings of the present study is quite similar to others done in the same age group students. In a study conducted in rural public school children it was found that regular use of smokeless tobacco increases with stressors like poor family relations and low school satisfaction3. Another study found stress to be an important interpersonal risk factor for smokeless tobacco use among students. This study also reported that poor grades in school are a risk factor and predictor of smokeless tobacco use in school students. The study also identified peer group pressure as an important risk factor4. In a study among school students in Pune it was found that majority of male students (83.6%) quoted peer pressure as the reason for their tobacco use just like the present study5. Thus, prevention programmes targeting gutkha addiction need to look at all these correction for a successful intervention.


  1. Luk J, Rau M. Are tobacco subsidies a misuse of public funds? BMJ 1996; 312: 832-5.
  2. Chaudhary K. Is Panmasala containing tobacco carcinogenic? NMJ India 1999; 12 : 21-7.
  3. Stevens MM, Freeman DH Jr, Mott LA, Youells FE, Linsey SC. Smokeless tobacco use among children the New Hampshire study. Am J Prev Med 1993; 9 : 160 – 7.
  4. Hu. FB, Hedeker D, Flay BR, Sussman S, Day LE, Siddiqui O. The patterns and predictors of smokeless tobacco onset among urban public school teenagers. Am J Med 1996; 12 : 22 -8.
  5. D’Costa C, Verma V, Dhawale N. A study of tobacco consumption among Xth std students of schools in Kunjirwadi and Khadakvasla. Journal of Community Health 1997; 7 : 21-6.

1 Deptt. of Health Services Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai.

2 Lokamanya Tilak Municipal Medical College (LTMMC),Mumbai.
E-mail: [email protected]

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