On May 31, nations around the globe commemorate World No Tobacco Day. Currently, approximately 5.4 million people die each year due to tobacco-related illnesses. The WHO estimates the number of deaths will increase to 8 million annually by 2030. Nearly 80% of the more than one billion smokers worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries. Tobacco use is a risk factor for six of the eight leading causes of death in the world and kills up to half of its users.
PSI applies its expertise in social marketing, behavior change communications and research to tobacco control by offering help to quit, protecting people from tobacco smoke and warning about the dangers of tobacco. Currently, PSI is implementing tobacco control programs in several of India’s states and districts.
In India, tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke kills more than one million people every year. More than one-third of individuals ages 15 and older use tobacco. The government of India enacted the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) in 2003, which includes comprehensive national legislation that prohibits smoking in public places and requires prominent display of specific signage. Despite this law, the 2010 Global Adult Tobacco Survey revealed that 21.1% of all adults in the state of Tamil Nadu are exposed to second-hand smoke in public places, evidence of a discrepancy between law enactment and enforcement.
In 2009, the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine in Tamil Nadu began the Smoke-Free Chennai project with funding support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The project was designed to ensure the enforcement of national legislation prohibiting smoking in public places. PSI understood that the integration of BCC into enforcement activities would help achieve the project’s goal of ensuring a 100% smoke-free environment. This approach focused on interpersonal health communication and increasing the number of ‘no smoking’ signage in public areas. PSI’s interpersonal communicators conducted BCC activities with tobacco users and retailers and provided referrals to cessation services and resources. In total, more than 150,000 tobacco users and retailers were exposed to PSI’s anti-tobacco health messages during the campaign.
In collaboration with the American Cancer Society (ACS), PSI/India began a pilot project in 2011 to social market tobacco cessation services and products through a workplace initiative. This pilot is intended to demonstrate and measure an integrated model of service and product marketing for cessation, with linkages to health care providers, aimed to substantially improve quit rates among active smokers. The service, branded as Wish2Quit Program, will operate on a fee-for-service basis, with staff available 12 hours per day, for six days a week including weekends. PSI/India utilizes the ACS’s proven system to effectively screen, assess and proactively support tobacco users. PSI is offering two types of tele-counseling services in English, Tamil and Hindi: five counseling sessions for those who have yet to quit for and three counseling sessions for those who recently quit. Currently, the quitline has trained 6 counselors, all of which have commenced free ‘trial’ sessions with clients from low-income groups and marketing materials and web-based content have been developed. PSI/India hopes to measurably demonstrate that the services available through Wish2Quit will show improved quit rates of up to 35 percent among smokers, understanding that only 2 to 5 percent of smokers are able to quit on their own.
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Country: India, Asia / Pacific
Health Areas: Non-Communicable Diseases