As many as seven experts from Gujarat Psychological Intervention Helpline (GPIH) have written a letter to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani stating that lack of availability of tobacco products to consumers during the COVID-19 lockdown have had great mental and physical effects on them. The experts also demanded re-opening of de-addiction centres across the state to help those in need.
The experts’ team from Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat and Botad said they counselled 45,000 people who were put under quarantine in Rajkot and Botad during the lockdown, among whom at least 25-30 per cent were found to be active users of tobacco products such as cigarettes, bidis, paan masala and ‘faaki’.
“We have found that people who are active users of tobacco are suffering from withdrawal symptoms and have great mental and physical effects on them. we wrote a letter to the CM stating that the de-addiction and rehabilitation centres be opened in the state and the government must arrange for large scale counselling of people through digital mediums,” said Dr Rajesh Parmar, a psychologist and founder of GPIH.
“A 37-year-old man who has been a tobacco user for the past 10 years called me and asked me if I can arrange ‘faaki’ for him. According to him, he has been suffering from constipation for the past four days and has been picking up fights with his family. Similarly, we are seeing cases where people have complained of lack of concentration, insomnia, mood swings and fits due to the withdrawal symptoms,” said Dr Parmar.