Experts weigh in on the challenges present in India’s journey to becoming tobacco-free.
Tobacco use is a growing “global pandemic” and India is no exception. The consumption of tobacco is witnessing an alarming rate with high impacts of adverse effects on society’s health.
India currently has 35% of the world’s tobacco users, with over 275 million individuals affected. This makes India the second-largest consumer of tobacco products globally, as per the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In 2020, there were 481 million cases of smoking-related diseases in India, a reminder of the pressing health risk posed by cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and other forms of tobacco.
With a better policy in the coming times, offering financial incentives to individuals who have successfully quit smoking or are undergoing Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) could be effective.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI), however, is yet to recognise this formally.
Reducing the number of tobacco addicts in India can be done by accessing research and data and providing necessary resources, such as medications and other therapeutic interventions.
WAY TO PROGRESS
It is essential that policymakers, government institutions, NGOs, de-addiction support groups and public and private healthcare players develop a well-strategised and seamless ecosystem to reduce the growing problem of tobacco addiction in the country.
Dr Manushree Gupta, psychiatrist at Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospitals, said that tobacco Cessation Clinics, established under the National Tobacco Control Program of the government of India are a gamechanger in terms of disseminating correct information to the public.
“It provides quality interventions for quitting tobacco. It is also important to have a comprehensive database on various aspects of consumption which would help policymakers devise strategies to tackle this problem,” said Dr Manushree Gupta.
“Increasing access to cessation services like counselling, group therapy, or behaviour modification programs is essential,” Dr Gupta added.