This is the result of mindless commercialization without preparing the population or having structures for proper education. This is absolutely scary if its a trend, and from the figures it seems to be becoming a trend.
Times have changed profoundly; a six year old is diagnosed with fourth stage of oral submucous fibrosis (OSMF), a disorder related to inflammation of tissues in the mouth. As informed by doctors, resulting from chewing tobacco for a long period of time. The situation has alarmed both the parents and doctor who witnessed this trend. This trend is setting among children at an unrepressed number these days as reported by TNN.
As per a Government of India survey, the age group that is affected by chewing tobacco or gutka had come down to 15 to 31 years on an average. This range is much lower than the earlier most addicted range of 45 to 54 in the country.(link)
This was also confirmed by another study by Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Tata Memorial Hospital a little while back:
About 50% children below the age of 10 in rural Karnataka have experimented with smokeless tobacco (like gutka and khaini) or smoking tobacco, imitating parents, grandparents and other elders in the family, says a recent study by Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. (link)
So many people want to ban the chewing of tobacco and gutka, but it is such a profitable business and product that it is hard to fight its lobby on the political class. But more than banning, what is needed is education and also law to ban sale of tobacco products to minors.