Tobacco cessation centres to be set up in all medical institutions; guidelines rolled out

These guidelines will set criteria and requirements for a fully functioning TCC in all medical institutes nationwide to increase tobacco quit rates.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only.

NEW DELHI: As over 1.3 million deaths in India are attributed to tobacco use every year, the Centre has rolled out guidelines for establishing tobacco cessation centres (TCC) in all medical institutions in the country.

These guidelines will set criteria and requirements for a fully functioning TCC in all medical institutes nationwide to increase tobacco quit rates.

These TCCs will offer various tobacco cessation services, including behavioural intervention, pharmacotherapy, and relapse prevention strategies, as per the guidelines launched on Friday during World No Tobacco Day. The centre has also launched updated guidelines for all educational institutions and campuses to become tobacco-free.

The guideline said the idea is to complement the existing tobacco cessation efforts by leveraging the opportune moments when patients visit medical institutions.

These centre will also provide tobacco cessation services for vulnerable groups visiting hospitals like pregnant women, children and adolescents by integrating the centre with prenatal care, paediatric care, and adolescent care.

The guideline document also said that all patients visiting different departments should be asked for tobacco use as a mandatory protocol, including second-hand smoking, and all users should be referred to TCC during treatment for cessation services.

It said medical institutions must be equipped with dedicated tobacco centres (TCC) since healthcare providers play a critical role in tobacco cessation, leveraging their unique position to influence, support, and guide patients toward quitting tobacco use.

These centres would also offer an ideal platform to educate, orient, and sensitise medical undergraduate students for a lifetime and are likely to result in an increase in quit rates among current tobacco users, it said.

It added that establishing these centres within medical institutions is pivotal for training future healthcare professionals in effective cessation techniques, advancing research on tobacco addiction, supporting community health through outreach programmes, and fostering early intervention strategies to prevent lifelong tobacco use.

Tobacco use is the leading single preventable cause of death worldwide, claiming the lives of over eight million people annually.

Of these fatalities, over seven million of those deaths result from direct tobacco consumption.

The guidelines said these TCCs should be located in an easily accessible and visible location – preferably near the registration area – and should conduct community outreach and screen for lifestyle diseases, including tobacco use, cancer screening, awareness, and mobilisation of tobacco cessation activities.

They should also identify clusters like schools, institutions, or health centres and organise mass community awareness activities.

The TCCs should also train undergraduate and postgraduate medical students, health workers, and allied and healthcare professionals to organise and conduct community-based tobacco cessation activities.

These centres, which should run daily, should also integrate their services with allied health services like Ayush and provide organised medical treatment and rehabilitation. They also have to establish robust data management mechanisms to monitor the effectiveness of TCC services and patient progress and identify effective strategies to help others quit.

The guidelines detail the requirements for these centres, including human resource, their qualifications, infrastructure, equipment, and materials.

In India, hospitals and medical institutions are flooded with tobacco diseases, and interventions by healthcare professionals can help motivate patients to change their behaviour and play an essential role in tobacco cessation and abstinence, it said.

So far, in India, a few TCCs have been established in certain districts/district hospitals and dental colleges.

In 2016, the Union Health Ministry introduced a mCessation service, a mobile-based service, and a national toll-free quitline offering counselling in 16 languages to tobacco users. In 2018, similar guidelines were issued for establishing cessation centres in dental institutes nationwide.

According to the second Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS-2, 2017), which was conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Indian government, 28.6% of adults (15+ years), 42.4% of males, and 14.2% of females consume tobacco.

About 21.4% of adults use smokeless/chewing tobacco, while 10.7% use smoking forms. Khaini and bidi are the most commonly used tobacco products. 11% of adults consume khaini, while 8% smoke bidi.

The report also found most tobacco users in India who understand the risks of tobacco use desire to quit. The report said that 55 per cent of smokers and 50 per cent of smokeless tobacco users’ likelihood of successfully quitting is more than two-fold.

Tobacco affects almost all body organs and causes many diseases. Most cases of head, neck, oesophagus, and lung cancers are due to smoking.

Approximately one-third of all cancers are tobacco-related, while 90 per cent of oral and lung cancers are linked to tobacco. It can also cause cancer of the bladder and kidneys.

Tobacco use is a significant risk factor for cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic lung diseases, stroke, diabetes, infertility, blindness, and Tuberculosis.

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