Health ministry launches national campaign to warn against dangers of 2nd hand smoke exposure

The first national tobacco control mass media campaign in India to promote the quitline at 1-800-11-2356


New Delhi: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched a national tobacco control mass media campaign to warn people about the deadly harms of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke (SHS). “Clinical”, a 30-second Public Service Announcement (PSA), reveals how exposure to SHS causes stroke and heart disease among non-smokers and encourages smokers to protect others by quitting smoking. It is the first national tobacco control mass media campaign to promote the quitline number, 1-800-11-2356.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), India, 2017, there has been a reduction in exposure to SHS in India since 2009-2010 (the time of the last GATS India report), but a large proportion of adults and children are still exposed to this invisible killer. Exposure to SHS in public spaces reduced from 29 percent to 23 per cent and exposure in the home reduced from 52 percent to 39 per cent, but exposure in the workplace rose marginally from 29.9 percent to 30.2 percent. Fully comprehensive smoke-free laws, with no exemptions, are more effective in protecting smokers and non-smokers.

Research has shown that media campaigns are one of the most effective means to build support for tobacco control policies and prompt people to stop smoking. It is one of the World Health Organization’s M-P-O-W-E-R (W=Warn) strategies to reduce tobacco consumption.

Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Professor and Surgeon, Tata Memorial Hospital, said, “Second hand smoke affects the heart and increases the risk of smoking related diseases in non-smokers. Effective implementation of smoke free policies in work places, public areas and other areas could be a preventive strategy to protect people from second hand smoke. Mass media campaigns such as ‘Clinical’ can prove to be very effective in conveying the harms of second hand smoking and results of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke.”

“There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, but many people don’t know about this invisible killer,’ said Dr Nandita Murukutla, Vice President, Global Policy and Research, Vital Strategies. ‘We expect the campaign will be highly effective in changing knowledge and behaviors around the health risks of second-hand smoke. It will increase support for strong enforcement of India’s smoke free laws, increase traffic to the national quitline and cessation website at the National Health Portal, and help to discourage people from consuming tobacco in any form. Vital Strategies is pleased to partner with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in delivering this campaign.”

Research studies from a number of countries indicate that most people successfully quit tobacco using the cold turkey method (quitting abruptly). To support people who want guidance and help in quitting tobacco use, the Government of India established a national Quitline on 1-800-11-2356 and an online resource, as recommended in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and MPOWER framework.

Vital Strategies provided technical assistance for this campaign, which will be broadcast in 17 languages over a period of three weeks on the channels of public service broadcasters Doordarshan and All India Radio for pan-India reach. The campaign will also run on major digital media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Hotstar and Voot. A simultaneous social media campaign using the hashtags #quittobaccoindia and #smokefreeindia will amplify the PSA and urge people to quit tobacco.

“Clinical” was filmed in India, and its effectiveness was assessed in test screenings among Indian audiences. During message-testing research, the campaign was found to be highly effective in communicating the harms of SHS, particularly on the heart. In rigorous message testing across India and two other countries – China and Russia – “Clinical” was one of the PSAs that was consistently positively rated by both smokers and non-smokers, performing well on indicators such as message acceptance (viewers accepted the message of the PSA), perceived effectiveness (how effective it was in delivering that message), and behavioral intention (whether the PSA made the viewer think about changing their behavior). The ‘Clinical’ PSA, and stills and transcripts from the PSA, are available upon request.