NEW DELHI, Dec 12: Only 7 per cent of doctors showed awareness about the recent advances in anti-smoking strategies, posing a significant challenge to the nation’s efforts in combating tobacco addiction, a study conducted by the Indian Medical Academy for Preventive Health (IMAPH) said.
The study, based on a survey conducted among 200 doctors with a minimum of three years of experience, brought to light some eye-opening statistics.
Cardiovascular disease emerged as the most common reason for patient visits at 12 per cent, underscoring the urgent need for anti-smoking interventions.
Dr Chandrakant S Pandav, former head of the Department of Community Medicine at the AIIMS-New Delhi, expressed concern stating, “The survey sheds light on the key role doctors play in motivating smokers to quit, emphasising the need for increased awareness and training in implementing advanced anti-smoking strategies. The findings of the survey are a wake-up call. We need to bridge the awareness gap among doctors to effectively combat tobacco harm.”
Dr M Wali, senior consultant, Medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital also underlined the importance of healthcare providers being well-informed about the latest smoke cessation approaches.
He said, “Effectiveness remains a critical factor in recommending cultural and region-specific methods to combat smoking, advocating the need for science-backed policy-making to arm doctors with safer options against tobacco addiction. Therefore, doctors must stay abreast of the latest developments to offer the best guidance. It’s crucial for effective tobacco control which is successfully practised abroad.”
The survey study suggests that doctors should rigorously inquire about patients’ tobacco consumption at every visit. Additionally, novel alternatives like e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn products could play a vital role as substitutes in reducing the burden of tobacco addiction in India.
As the second-largest tobacco consumer globally, with 275 million users, India faces a significant challenge. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey data indicates that only 55.4 per cent of smokers have ever considered or intended to quit, showcasing the urgent need for more effective anti-smoking strategies.
In addressing the survey’s stark reality, Dr J Kumar, medical advisor at IMAPH, emphasises the urgent need for a united front against tobacco addiction.
“With only 7 per cent of doctors aware of recent anti-smoking advancements, this signals not just a knowledge gap but a call for revolutionary change,” Dr Kumar said.
Dr Kumar sees the survey as a compass guiding us from awareness to action. Prioritising effectiveness over cost and embracing innovative methods, such as behavioural therapy, can bridge the gap, propelling doctors to the forefront of a tobacco-free era in India.”
The research highlights the importance of science-backed policy making to empower doctors, researchers, and medical practitioners to explore and recommend safer options.
By addressing the gaps in awareness and advocating for effective strategies, India can progress towards achieving the global voluntary goal of a 30 per cent reduction in tobacco consumption by 2025. (PTI)