New Delhi, Oct 11: There is good news for people wanting to quit tobacco. The government will soon offer a mobile phone-based intervention to tobacco users where they will be counselled to kick the habit.
The Union Health Ministry will launch "Mobile(m) Cessation" to develop tobacco use abstinence among people interested in quitting.
As part of the programme, tobacco users can enroll themselves by giving a missed call to a particular phone number after which they will be asked three to four questions through SMS like their educational qualifications, work status and the age of onset of tobacco use.
After these details are fed into the system, the tobacco users will start getting three to four messages daily which will counsel and consistently motivate them to quit tobacco, said Additional Director (Health) S K Arora, who is coordinating this project on behalf of the Delhi government.
"We can quit smoking and chewable tobacco use or any other substance abuse by strengthening our will power, the way we stop use of such products suddenly during religious days like Navratra etc.
"This m cessation will strengthen the will power of a tobacco user through counselling and consistently motivate them to quit the habit," said Dr Arora.
"Mobile phones are used by a large number of people because of which we believe that these will play a key role in encouraging people to quit," said a Health Ministry official.
The toll free phone number will be announced by government through advertisements. India is home to the world's second largest number of tobacco users (around 275 million).
The Government of India had last year set a target of reducing tobacco use by 20 per cent by 2020 and 30 per cent by 2025.
Forty per cent of all cancers, 90 per cent of oral cancers and 30 per cent of TB cases are due to tobacco use. In India, 9-10 lakh people die every year due to tobacco habits, according to government data.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry today issued a notification making it mandatory for all tobacco products to carry warnings that would cover 85 per cent of the surface of the packets from April 1 next year, up from 40 per cent at present.