India only SAARC country to have a quit-line number for tobacco users

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  • India has become the first and only SAARC country to have a quit-line number on tobacco products.
  • The Union Health Ministry has already made 85% pictorial health warning mandatory on both sides of packets containing cigarettes, bidis, and chewing tobacco.
  • The quit-line number will be printed on all tobacco products manufactured after September 1, 2018.
  • India is the fourth country in Asia after Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore to have this government helpline for those looking at quitting tobacco.
  • At least 46 countries have quit-line numbers as part of health warning labels on tobacco product packaging.
  • The current pictorial warnings on both sides of packages of cigarettes, bidis and all forms of chewing tobacco products in India came into effect from April 2016, following the direction of the Rajasthan High Court and subsequently the Supreme Court. They have been in effect for almost two years.
  • India’s current international ranking for package warnings is number three in the world, as outlined in the October 2016 Canadian Cancer Society’s ‘Cigarette Package Health Warning International Status Report’, that ranked 205 countries worldwide.
  • The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2016-17 by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had put to rest all apprehensions about the effectiveness of warnings, since 62% of cigarette smokers and 54% of bidi smokers shared that they thought of quitting because of the 85% pictorial warnings on the packets. And 46% of smokeless tobacco users thought of quitting because of the warnings on smokeless tobacco products.
  • Pictorial health warnings on tobacco products are the most cost-effective tool for educating [people] on health risks of tobacco use. In a country like India where people use several languages and dialects, pictorial warning transcends language and, in many cases, the illiteracy barrier.
  • The 85% pictorial warnings on all cigarettes, bidis and chewing tobacco packages manufactured and sold in India have resulted in 92% of adults [surveyed under GATS 2016-2017] believing that smoking caused serious illness, and 96% saying that use of smokeless tobacco causes serious illness.
  • The findings revealed a growing demand for cessation centres as 55% of smokers and 50% of smokeless tobacco users were planning or thinking of quitting tobacco use.

Source:TH