Quit tobacco App bazaar, social media and online anti-tobacco support campaigns have begun to draw more aspirants than the traditional counsellers, as per a random survey on the eve of the World No Tobacco Day.
Online campaigners claim that there is a full Facebook page ‘ýTobacco Free Madhya Pradesh’ where its creators are sharing messages, pictures and articles related to tobacco addiction.
Sharing her concerns on the FB page, Divya Parashar, who is a top management executive says, “Madhya Pradesh has a very high prevalence of tobacco consumption. As per GATS (Global Adult Tobacco Survey) 2010, nearly 1.9 crore people use tobacco in some form or the other in your state. This is quite alarming and it needs urgent action. It is estimated that 1 crore people in Madhya Pradesh may die an untimely death or be diseased with serious illnesses such as cancers, heart diseases, respiratory diseases etc.”
Parashar, who is also head of the department of Social Oncology of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cancer Hospital and Research Centre Bhopal, has started her own Facebook page Tobacco Free Madhya Pradesh. In fact, there are many like her whose messages are drawing many would-be tobacco quitters.
N Ganesh, who is a senior scientist at Jawaharlal Nehru Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, says the reason people have started turning to the online support is because unlike support groups for which you have to take out time and travel to the place where the group meets regularly, online support groups are accessible through smartphones and laptops anytime by a person who wants to quit smoking.
“We have a tobacco cessation clinic at our hospital, one of the only kinds in the state, but people hardly visit it. And those who come don't take it that seriously. So last year, we decided to extend our efforts to social media. Divya Parashar’s page is a step in that direction," he says.
There are scores of pages on Facebook catering to different groups and aspirations.
There are pages like Smoke free women, quit smoking hypnotherapy, quit smoking today, quit smoking group and so on.
Illustration: Abhimanyu Sinha
Such groups continuously share experiences and tips on quitting smoking. Many youngsters have found such online groups helpful to sustain their motivation to leave the addiction.
“Quitting smoking is very difficult, but when I visited some FB pages and online support groups, I became aware that I was not alone. There were many like me who had quit smoking and then again started. But they were trying again. Reading accounts of such people trying to quit smoking helped me to muster courage to try quitting. I have quit two times, but this time I am hopeful that I will succeed like so many others whom I encountered in the online support and awareness groups,” says Shivang Singh, who has just completed his engineering.
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