New Delhi: Seven out of 10 smokers in India are aware of the consequences, but 53% among them failed in their efforts to kick the cigarette butt, new data released by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW) showed.

The data released on Wednesday indicates that new cessation and harm-reduction options are needed to help smokers live longer and healthier lives. “The data show what we have anecdotally known for decades—that many smokers have the desire to quit, but not the means to match it," said Derek Yach, president of the foundation.

The FSFW global survey, comprising 17,000 participants across 13 countries, also indicates enormous challenges in creating a one-size-fits-all approach to quit smoking. The report shows that smokers are sacrificing their physical and economic well-being to smoke, even though many of them have the desire to quit.

According to the India-specific report, 68% of smokers reported that they were “well informed" about the impact of smoking on their health, and 51% were willing to quit. However, 41% of those who tried to quit said they would need assistance to do so, while 25% have picked up e-cigarette or vaping devices to cut down smoking.

“In the two years since the Royal College of Physicians found that ‘harm reduction has huge potential to prevent death and disability from tobacco use’, we continue to largely ignore the fact that many smokers do not want to quit, but obtain pleasure from smoking. Harm-reduction advancements are literally a matter of life or death for these people," said Yach.

More than 104 million people in India continue to put their health at risk by using combusted tobacco every day. Bidis, which are a type of low-cost and hand-rolled cigarettes made locally, account for a significant proportion of tobacco use in India. Their popularity is attributed to lower tax excise than conventional cigarettes or to tax evasion altogether. This suggests that control measures applied in India may have to be distinct from those applied to other countries in order to “accelerate the rate of smoking cessation and harm reduction in India".

Of the 13 countries the Foundation surveyed, the majority of smokers consider themselves addicted to cigarette—from 60% in India to 91% in Japan. Majority of smokers from New Zealand, the US, the UK, France, Brazil, Japan, Israel, Russia, Malawi, India and Greece, the majority of smokers have tried to quit. Only South Africa and Lebanon have less than half who tried to quit.

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