The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) relaunched ‘Cough’ — a national mass media campaign to warn citizens about how tobacco use is linked to TB. An announcement to this effect was made during the ‘End TB’ summit recently held in New Delhi.
The ‘Cough’ campaign focuses on raising awareness about how tobacco consumption and exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke increases the risks of TB and TB-related fatalities. A key barrier to timely diagnosis and treatment among smokers is the assumption that a cough is related to their smoking, said experts. The campaign encourages smokers to visit doctors to confirm if persistent cough is a sign of TB.
TB killed as many as 4,32,000 Indians in 2016 — more than 1,183 every day. The central government has planned to eliminate TB from India by 2025, five years ahead of the global TB elimination target of 2030. The campaign has been designed to generate support for TB eradication, encourage smokers to quit, and increase timely diagnosis and treatment of TB. The campaign was developed and implemented with the technical support of Vital Strategies, stated a press release issued on Tuesday.
“Most of the TB-related deaths in India occur among young, economically-productive adults and the disease is one of the top five causes of death among people between the 30 and 69,” said José Luis Castro, president and chief executive officer, Vital Strategies.
“India’s tobacco epidemic is contributing to this burden. ‘Cough’ will support progress towards the target of eliminating TB by 2025 by encouraging smokers to quit and ensuring that smokers and those exposed to second-hand smoke visit the doctor to check what persistent cough means. This is a life-saving message and we congratulate MoHFW on the relaunch of this important campaign,” he added.
India became the first country in the world to run a national tobacco control campaign with the launch of ‘Cough’ on World No Tobacco Day in 2017.
Cough — a public service announcement (PSA) launched as part of the anti-tobacco campaign — graphically shows how a smoker’s persistent cough (over two weeks or more) hints at TB. The PSA shows a father smoking and coughing beside his daughter, noting that exposure to second-hand smoke brings the same risks. It ends with the stark warning that “Every beedi, cigarette brings you and those around you closer to TB.”
To ensure a pan-India reach, ‘Cough’ will be broadcast in 17 languages for ten consecutive days on public service broadcasters like Doordarshan and All India Radio. It will also run for two weeks on major digital platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, Hotstar and Voot.
In advance of its initial launch in 2017, ‘Cough’ was rigorously pretested with a target audience who found that it was “easy to understand”, “believable”, “made respondents stop and think”, and “made respondents feel more concerned” about smoking around others. The PSA also made respondents “feel sympathetic to those with TB”, “made them feel concerned about symptoms of TB”, “made them more likely to visit a doctor if they had TB symptoms”, and “increased their confidence to take TB medications if they were sick”. Overall, respondents understood the main message of the PSA and it resonated well with them, stated the release.