City-based doctors who are part of an anti-tobacco campaign say their smoking cessation programme has seen surprisingly good response this year, with 40-odd smokers attending counselling sessions at a private nursing home.
“We were pleasantly surprised at the response when 40 persons, all working professionals in the age group 40-50, attended the counselling session as part of the Quit Tobacco campaign,” Dr Nitin Abhyankar, a chest physician, said.
Abhyankar, along with Dr Vandana Joshi, has been running a programme, Prevent Addicition through Children’s Education (PACE), which has reached out to over a lakh schoolchildren in four years.
This year, the “quit tobacco” campaign by the initiative conducted a survey that had detailed questionnaires for smokers, including queries like “how long have you been without a cigarette or have you slept with a tobacco product in your mouth to avoid smoking as soon as you get up”.
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“As many as 220 persons have filled up the questionnaires, but our target is 2000,”says Dr N Geeta, who is in charge of the campaign and who helped start the counselling session at a private nursing home.
Dr Geeta and her team have been distributing these questionnaires at bus stands, railway station and other public places. On the occasion of No Tobacco Day (May 31), they planned a programme at Pune Municipal Corporation’s Ghole Road office and at Katraj zoo.
“Very few are interested in quitting tobacco. At some housing societies, office-bearers assured us of a large audience, but when we turned up for meetings, there were only two to three persons present,” Dr Geeta says.
Abhyankar says that of all smokers coming to him seeking help to quit, only eight gave up the addiction on an average in a month. According to the doctor, a smoker makes at least five attempts before he quits.
“The time time taken to light up the first cigarette or chew tobacco after waking up in the morning is a fair indicator of the severity of tobacco addiction. If one lights up the first cigarette within five minutes of waking up, the addiction is fairly strong,” says Dr Bernard Fanthome, medical director of Ace Hospital and Research centre.
Plain packs preferred
A study to assess perceptions on plain packaging of tobacco products and impact of larger graphic health warnings had been conducted in the last six months in Delhi and Telangana. Findings indicate that 69% of respondents preferred plain packaging of tobacco products while over 80 per cent felt it would reduce appeal of the pack and motivate smokers to quit, said Dr Monika Arora, associate professor at the Public Health Foundation of India.
This year, the theme of No Tobacco Day is plain packaging of tobacco products and a national tobacco cessation quitline to support users wanting to quit was launched by the Union Health Minister J P Nadda on Monday.