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Now, tobacco packs to have ‘quit helpline number’

The new warnings will come into effect from September 1, 2018.

jaipur Updated: Apr 05, 2018 20:39 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Tobacco is responsible for nearly 50% of all cancers in India and 90% of mouth cancers.
Tobacco is responsible for nearly 50% of all cancers in India and 90% of mouth cancers. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/ Representative image)
         

Now, tobacco consumers will find a quit line number on the tobacco pack itself– to help users quit the addiction.

The Union ministry of health and family welfare in a notification dated April 3, 2018, has announced that tobacco packets will have new warnings covering 85% of the packet with pictorial images, text messages and a quit helpline telephone number.

The new warnings will come into effect from September 1, 2018, the notification said.

The text messages will include: “Tobacco Causes Cancer” and “Tobacco Causes Painful Death” along with a quit helpline number 1800-11-2356 printed on the packet.

The government has introduced a quit helpline number looking at the results of the Global Adult Tobacco Survey report, 2017, that states that 62% of cigarette smokers, 54% of bidi smokers and 46% of smokeless tobacco users thought of quitting their addiction due to the pictorial warning label on tobacco products, said Dr Pawan Singhal at the Voice of Tobacco Victims, an anti-tobacco advocacy group.

“Printing of the quit helpline number on the packets, was a novel idea, which will motivate smokers to seek help for quitting tobacco,” he said.

“Many tobacco users want to quit, but are not aware about where and how to seek help. For such people, the quit helpline number will be very useful.”

Singhal further said that the quit helpline number offers the caller a sense of anonymity, which many of them will want.

According to Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, a cancer surgeon at the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, more than 12 lakh deaths occur every year in India due to tobacco use.

Almost 40% of the Non Communicable Diseases, including cancers, cardio-vascular diseases and lung disorders are directly attributable to tobacco use, he said.

Tobacco is responsible for nearly 50% of all cancers in India and 90% of mouth cancers, said Chaturvedi, who is a member of the committee that finalized the recent warnings.

Sanjay Seth, trustee of Sambandh Health Foundation, an organisation active in tobacco control, said the step highlights the government’s holistic approach in reducing the prevalence in tobacco usage.

India in now among the top three countries in the world in effectiveness of pack warnings and adding quit helpline number is an innovation, which will be of great help to millions of tobacco users, he said, adding that most users think of quitting but are unable to access help.

“The quit helpline will bridge that gap,” he said.

The implementation of 85% warnings came in the wake of a direction of the Rajasthan High Court that was later endorsed by the Supreme Court.

The current pictorial warnings on both sides of cigarettes, bidis and all forms of chewing tobacco products came into effect from 1st April 2016.

First Published: Apr 05, 2018 20:39 IST

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