Tobacco use and smoking can be discouraged with a more positive approach
New Delhi, 06 December 2017: Tobacco use among children and teenagers claims about one million lives in India, indicate statistics. There is also a huge economic burden among people due to tobacco use. One of the major causes for continued tobacco consumption in India is the fact that it is a part of the country’s social culture. However, a recent study has also indicated that there have been many benefits due to the large pictorial warnings on product packs, higher taxes and an intensive awareness campaign against tobacco consumption.
Tobacco use is associated with many adverse health effects and is a major preventable cause of morbidity and mortality. As per the CDC, smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times, for stroke by 2 to 4 times, lung cancer by about 25 times. In addition, it reduces quality of life, and increases health care utilization and cost.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, National President Indian Medical Association (IMA) and President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Dr RN Tandon – Honorary Secretary General IMA in a joint statement, said, “India has a ‘National Tobacco Control Programme’ in place to make the public aware about the harmful effects of tobacco use, control tobacco consumption and minimize the deaths. ‘Smoking kills’ has been the message that has been conveyed in the campaigns on tobacco control with the expectation that highlighting the potentially life-threatening health consequences would deter people from smoking or using tobacco products. It’s time to alter the tone of such public health campaigns, from negative to positive. Quite often, we may rebuke a patient for failing in his efforts to quit smoking and say, ‘If you do not quit, you may die’. A statement worded as this may inadvertently sound discouraging to the patient. While it is important that people know the dangers of smoking or using tobacco products, a positive communication approach may have a more fruitful impact than a critical approach.
Kids start to smoke before they’re old enough to think about the risks; after starting they rapidly become addicted to smoking and then regret it later.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, said, “The chances that a patient would adhere to the lifestyle modifications are higher if communicated in an empathetic and supportive manner. IMA is committed to working closely with all National Health Programs alongside the government. As individual doctors, we too can contribute to the success of National Tobacco Control Program. Counsel your patients who smoke about quitting smoking but with a difference… Turn a negative situation to a more positive action.”
Some tips to help such people cope with and quit the habit are as follows.
- Avoid violent communication. Do not condemn, criticize and complaint, the 3Cs of violent communication.
- Use a nonviolent communication approach to help and support your patient in his efforts to give up smoking.
- Tell your patient, who is trying to quit smoking, or other tobacco products, “Thank you for not smoking”.
- Appreciate the hard work put in and their perseverance. This way the patient knows that he has your support and will have trust and faith in you.