New Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS): A mere 7 per cent of doctors are aware of recent advances in anti-smoking strategies, posing a significant challenge to the nation's efforts in combating tobacco addiction, according to a new study on Monday.
The study by Indian Medical Academy for Preventive Health (IMAPH) -- a knowledge hub and a trusted resource for healthcare professionals -- is based on a survey of 200 Indian doctors with a minimum of 3 years of experience.
The findings also showed that cardiovascular disease is the most common reason for patient visits at 12 per cent, underscoring the urgent need for anti-smoking interventions.
"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," said Chandrakant S. Pandav, global public health expert, and a former Professor & Head of the Department of Centre for Community Medicine at AIIMS, Delhi, in a statement.
The survey also highlighted that despite 78.5 per cent of doctors regularly providing anti-smoking advice, there remains a significant lack of awareness of the most recent advancements in this field.
Behavioural therapy (28 per cent) and counselling/support groups (26 per cent) were identified as the most effective methods for smoking cessation.
"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 is crucial for effective tobacco control which is successfully practised abroad," said M Wali, Senior Consultant, Medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
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 recent 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.
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.