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Tobacco Cessation Education

As a country that ranks as the second largest producer of tobacco and its fourth largest consumer, Indian culture is no stranger to usage of tobacco. With easy access and almost uniform cultural acceptance of its usage, tobacco has a strangle hold on Indians, rural and urban.

“As studies reveal 5,500 adolescents start using tobacco every day in India joining the 4 million young people under the age of 15 who are regular tobacco users. India also sees a steady rise in deaths attributed to tobacco every year. From 1.4% of all deaths in 1990 the number is expected to rise to 13.3% in 2020. According to the WHO, India would have the highest rate of rise in tobacco related deaths during this period, compared to all other countries/regions.”

With tobacco usage being a major reason for the onset of Oral cancer, the issue has garnered more urgency.

Under the National Tobacco Control Program launched by the Central Government in 2007, each state has a dedicated State Tobacco Control Cell which administers the District Tobacco Control Program through existing Panchayati Raj Institutions. The components of the program include:

  1. Monitoring and implementation of the tobacco control laws
  2. Launching an IEC/ mass media awareness campaign
  3. Running a school health and awareness campaign
  4. Training and capacity building for the enforcement of various provisions of the Act
  5. Establishment of Tobacco Cessation Centres

In 2011, we started an Oral Cancer Screening Program in Chikkballapur and we found that nearly 20% of the people screened had precancerous lesions. Most of these men and women chew gutka, and nearly all of them did not know that this can cause cancer. This was of great concern to us and has led to development of a Tobacco Cessation Education module which graphically depicts the effects of smoking and chewing tobacco and other substances on the body. We hope to start Tobacco Cessation Centres in all our clinics in the next few months. The modules are in the form of flip charts which the Community Health Workers use to disseminate information.

We are also in the process of developing a mobile phone based application, in collaboration with Axxonet, which would help smokers quit the habit.



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