'Clinical' strike for #smokefreeindia

A US-based health organisation, Vital Strategies, on Thursday commended the Indian government on the launch of a national tobacco control mass media campaign to warn people about the harm of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke (SHS).

"Clinical", a 30-second Public Service Announcement (PSA), reveals how exposure to SHS causes stroke and heart disease among non-smokers and encourages smokers to protect others by quitting smoking.

"It is the first national tobacco control mass media campaign to promote the Quitline number 1-800-11-2356," said the not-for-profit health organisation, which provided technical assistance to the Union Health Ministry for the campaign.

The campaign will be broadcast in 17 languages over a period of three weeks on the channels of public broadcasters -- Doordarshan and All India Radio -- for pan-India reach. 

The campaign will also run on major digital media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Hotstar and Voot. A simultaneous social media campaign using the hashtags #quittobaccoindia and #smokefreeindia will amplify the announcement and urge people to quit tobacco.

Clinical was filmed in India, and its effectiveness was assessed in test screenings among Indian audiences. During message-testing research, the campaign was found to be highly effective in communicating the harms of SHS, particularly on the heart, said Vital Strategies. 

During message testing across India and two other countries -- China and Russia -- Clinical was one of the PSAs that was consistently positively rated by both smokers and non-smokers, performing well on indicators such as message acceptance, perceived effectiveness and behavioural intention. 

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), India - 2017, there has been a reduction in exposure to SHS in India since 2009-2010 when last GATS India report was published, but a large proportion of adults and children are still exposed to this invisible killer. 

by 2017, exposure to SHS in public spaces was down from 29 per cent to 23 per cent and exposure in the home from 52 per cent to 39 per cent. But exposure in the workplace rose, though marginally, from 29.9 per cent to 30.2 per cent.

Comprehensive smoke-free laws, with no exemptions, are more effective in protecting smokers and non-smokers, said Vital Strategies.

Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, Professor and Surgeon, Tata Memorial Hospital, said: "Second-hand smoke affects the heart and increases the risk of smoking-related diseases in non-smokers. Effective implementation of smoke free policies in work places, public areas and other areas could be a preventive strategy to protect people from second-hand smoke."

"There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, but many people don't know about this invisible killer," said Dr. Nandita Murukutla, Vice President, Global Policy and Research, Vital Strategies.

"We expect the campaign will be highly effective in changing knowledge and behaviours around the health risks of second-hand smoke," Murukutla added.

Research studies from a number of countries indicate that most people successfully quit tobacco using the cold turkey method (quitting abruptly). To support people who want guidance and help in quitting tobacco use, the government of India has set up a national Quitline 1-800-11-2356 and an online resource.

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Source: IANS