A groundbreaking survey conducted by the Indian Medical Academy for Preventive Health (IMAPH) has exposed significant knowledge gaps among prominent doctors in India regarding recent advances in anti-smoking strategies. Shockingly, only 7% of doctors demonstrated awareness of these developments, posing a formidable challenge to the nation's efforts in combating tobacco addiction.
The survey, involving 200 doctors with a minimum of 3 years of experience, disclosed eye-opening statistics. Cardiovascular disease emerged as the most common reason for patient visits at 12%, highlighting the pressing need for anti-smoking interventions.
Dr. Chandrakant S. Pandav, a distinguished Global Public Health Expert and Padma Shri Awardee, expressed concern over the survey findings, emphasizing the crucial role doctors play in motivating smokers to quit. He called for increased awareness and training to implement advanced anti-smoking strategies, describing the results as a wake-up call.
Despite 78.5% of doctors regularly providing anti-smoking advice, there remains a significant lack of awareness of recent advancements in this field. Behavioral therapy (28%) and counseling/support groups (26%) were identified as the most effective methods for smoking cessation.
Dr. M Wali, Padma Shri, Past Physician, Three Indian Presidents, and Senior Consultant, Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, stressed the importance of healthcare providers being well-informed about the latest smoke cessation approaches. He advocated for science-backed policy-making to equip doctors with safer options against tobacco addiction.
The survey recommends that doctors should inquire about patients' tobacco consumption rigorously during every visit. It also suggests that 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.
India, as the second-largest tobacco consumer globally with 275 million users, faces a significant challenge. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey data indicates that only 55.4% of smokers have ever considered or intended to quit, highlighting the urgent need for more effective anti-smoking strategies.
Dr. J Kumar, Medical Advisor at IMAPH, emphasized the urgent need for a united front against tobacco addiction. With only 7% of doctors aware of recent anti-smoking advancements, the survey signals not just a knowledge gap but a call for revolutionary change. Dr. Kumar sees the survey as a compass guiding India from awareness to action, urging stakeholders to collaborate for a smoke-free future. The findings underscore the pivotal role of doctors in steering India towards a smoke-free future and the urgency in equipping them with the necessary knowledge and tools to combat tobacco addiction effectively.