HYDERABAD: The only government cessation centre in Telangana at the MNJ Institute of Oncology, Hyderabad has registered a meagre number of 1,786 tobacco users looking to quit, in the last one year. While the numbers have increased from 604 in 2016-17, experts note that the increase is not substantial enough to mark it as a ‘progress’ for the State.
This becomes relevant when the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recently released a report on the global tobacco epidemic 2019 puts India at the seventh position with the highest level of achievement in its tobacco cessation efforts across the globe.
According to information, out of the total number of registered tobacco users, only 30% come back for a follow-up. Of the total 1,786 persons who have registered, 1,553 were men and 233 were women. Interestingly, all the registered women were smokeless tobacco users, while 895 men were addicted to smoke-based tobacco products, like cigarettes.
Dr N Jayalatha, director of MNJ Hospital, said that the tobacco user registration at the cessation centre is not worth boasting. “The numbers are fairly okay. We haven’t witnessed a monumental rise ever since the centre was functional. We can only help the attendants of the patients who visit the outpatient department, and a small percentage of registrations are due to word of mouth information from the people who have received a positive result,” Dr Jayalatha told Express. The centre in Hyderabad is one of the 28 regional centres under the purview of the Centre and the second in entire South India.
India is the second-largest consumer of tobacco products where more than 200 million people use smokeless forms of tobacco (SLT) and 276 million use tobacco overall. In 2017, a Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) found that 38.5 per cent of adult smokers and 33.2 per cent of adult SLT users in India had attempted to quit.
According to Dr Jayalatha, TS is at a very nascent stage when it comes to awareness and action regarding tobacco usage. GATS in TS has recorded that of the 17.8 per cent of people who consume tobacco, 25.9 per cent are men and 9.8 per cent are women. “The State government needs to create widespread awareness on the existing facilities that can help people quit,” Dr Jayalatha added.