India is home to approximately 106 million cigarette smokers, accounting for almost 11.2% of the world’s smokers. In Madhya Pradesh specifically, as per the GATS 2 survey, 30-40% of the State’s population uses tobacco in some form. These numbers are higher than the national average of 28.6%.
To strengthen the commitment and collaboratively work towards decreasing the economic cost of tobacco related illnesses and deaths, Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI), brought together multiple stakeholders on “Tobacco Harm Reduction: A viable alternative to the scourge of combustible cigarettes” in the State.
Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) said that India bears a particularly high non-communicable disease burden, and as per WHO estimates, nearly 61% of all deaths in India can be attributed to NCDs, including heart disorders and cancer. Therefore, reduced harm alternatives such as electronic nicotines delivery systems (ENDS) coupled with behavioural counselling need to be made available as there are several smokers who are unwilling or unable to quit with the help of nicotine gums or patches.
RN Sharan, Professor, Biochemistry Department-North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) said that Tobacco Harm Reduction (or THR) strategies are based on the fact that even though nicotine is addictive. There is a growing scientific evidence to support the use of e-cigarettes as a sustainable and more effective alternative to cigarette smoking and that long-term effects of these products will be minimal. In fact, many countries that have regulated ENDS are already witnessing record reductions in smoking rates.