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Tobacco kills half of its users, with smoking and smokeless tobacco killing nearly six million people worldwide—one death every six seconds—each year. Photo: Bloomberg
Tobacco kills half of its users, with smoking and smokeless tobacco killing nearly six million people worldwide—one death every six seconds—each year. Photo: Bloomberg

Economic Survey says people keen to quit tobacco, cites surge in helpline calls

  • A call-in helpline service was launched in 2016
  • Calls to helpline have gone up to 2.50 lakh/month from 20,000

NEW DELHI: The government’s tobacco control programme may be having its desired impact, if one were to go by 2019-20 Economic Survey. According to the documents tabled by the government in Parliament on Friday, there has been sharp surge in the number of calls to a national helpline since its launch in 2016. More people thus are keen on quitting tobacco.

“Large pictorial warnings and quitline number on tobacco packs and the resulting increased call volumes from 20,000 to 2.50 lakh calls per month at the quitline services, indicate that government’s efforts to reduce tobacco use are starting to bear fruit," the Survey by Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy V. Subramanian said.

The government had launched a helpline, called the ‘National Tobacco Cessation Quitline’, in 2016 aimed at guiding tobacco addicts to quit its usage with proper counselling.

Even the market leader of cigarettes in India ITC, in its earnings for the September quarter, said that the sales volume of the legal cigarette industry “remains significantly below June 2014 levels".

It is important to note that the legal cigarette industry accounts for only one-tenth of the tobacco consumed in India.

There were about 266.8 million tobacco users in India, according to the World Health Organization’s fact sheet for 2018.

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