A Review of Behavioural Intervention Studies of Tobacco Use in India
Although tobacco is a major health hazard in the region, tobacco control measures by the governmental agencies have been mostly nominal, perhaps due to strong conflicts of interest. On the contrary, research workers, particularly in the field of cancer, have contributed considerably, using the little resources available to them, by evaluating behavioural intervention with different forms of health education. The 10-year results from studies by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in different parts of India indicate that 16% of the intervention group (n=24,000) reported stopping tobacco habits, compared to 5% in the control group (n=11,000). A study from Karnataka, reported that 32% of rural subjects with tobacco habits reportedly stopped the habit after 4 years of intervention using health workers, compared to 2% in the control group. A significant reduction in the prevalence of habits 3 years after intervention using social and welfare workers, teachers, and students was reported from Goa: 16% of men and 21% of women reportedly quit their habits. On the other hand, intervention studies using health workers in Trivandrum district, Kerala and Mainpuri district in North India did not take off, due to the non co-operation of health workers. A study using voluntary workers in Mainpuri district reported encouraging results. Overall these studies have established that behavioural interventions with health education strategies are successful to an extent in encouraging those with tobacco habits to quit and discourage others from initiating these habits. Considering the variety of ways that tobacco habits are practised in the background of vast ethnic, cultural, linguistic and socio-economic differences, research findings in different settings are valuable for formulation and implementation of public health policies to control tobacco in the sub-continent.
KeywordsHealth Worker Tobacco Control Tobacco User Tobacco Control Policy Betel Quid
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