At least 39% of the total number of people, who called the government’s National quit-line services, quit smoking or chewing tobacco after they received telephonic counselling four times, reveals data released by Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute (VPCI). The data on the tobacco cessation programme also reveals that the maximum number of people who sought help from the quitline belonged to the private sector.
The data — from May 30, 2016 to May 31, 2017 — reveals that of 5,179 persons, 2,010 quit smoking or chewing tobacco after receiving counselling from government quit-line services. During the period, 5,179 persons agreed to undergo counselling to quit tobacco; 12,107 did not agree to continue with services; 1,198 called only to inquire; while 754 could not undertake the services due to language barrier.
The data reveals that 69%, who undertook counselling, were between 25-64 years old, while 29% belonged to the age group of 15-24. Interestingly, 22 persons, who were less than the age of 14 also signed up.
“The entire counselling is done by trained psychologists. The toll free service is a good way to reach people who are reluctant to come forward due to the fear of being judged. The data shows that maximum calls came from those who had no family history of tobacco use. The data indirectly points out that majority of them are using tobacco under work pressure and peer pressure. We are going to expand the services, and increase the number of counsellors. At present, we have 18 counsellors, and at a time six counsellors attend to calls. We want to increase this number to nine,” Professor Raj Kumar, Head of the Department of National Center of Respiratory Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, VPCI, said.
The data shows that those earning between Rs 11,000 and Rs 30,000 sought maximum help (41.3%). This was followed by those who are still not earning (26.2%) and those who have an income of less than Rs 10,000 (21%). The lowest was recorded among those who were earning more than Rs 60,000 (1.9%). Similarly, the data shows that expenditure played an important role as 47% of those who wanted to quit spent up to Rs 500, followed by those spending in the range of Rs 1,000-5,000 (30%). The lowest was reported among those spending above Rs 5,000 (3%).
The tobacco cessation programme — financially supported by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare — was launched in May 2016 and follows World Health Organisation protocols.