Govt. mass media campaign highlights link between tobacco and TB

New Delhi: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), during the End-TB Summit here, has re-launched ‘Cough,’ a national mass media campaign to warn citizens about the links between TB and tobacco use.

‘Cough’ shows that tobacco consumption and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke increases the risk of TB and of dying from the disease. A key barrier to timely diagnosis and treatment among smokers is the assumption that a cough is related to their smoking. This campaign encourages smokers to visit their doctor to confirm whether a persistent cough is a sign of TB.

TB killed 432,000 Indians in 2016 – more than 1,183 every day. The government aims to eradicate TB from India by 2025, five years ahead of the global TB elimination target of 2030. The campaign, which is designed to create support for TB eradication, encourage smokers to quit, and increase timely diagnosis and treatment of TB, was developed and implemented with technical support from Vital Strategies.

“Most TB deaths in India occur among young, economically productive adults and the disease is one of the top five causes of death among people aged 30-69 years,” said Jose Luis Castro, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vital Strategies.

“India’s tobacco epidemic is contributing to this burden. ‘Cough’ will support progress towards the target of eliminating TB by 2025 by encouraging smokers to quit and ensuring that smokers and those exposed to secondhand smoke visit the doctor about a persistent cough. This is a life-saving message and we congratulate MoHFW on the re-launch of this important campaign,” added Castro.

When ‘Cough’ first launched on World No Tobacco Day in 2017, India became the first country in the world to run a national tobacco control campaign that highlights the increased risk of TB and dying from TB linked to smoking tobacco (cigarettes or bidis) or exposure to second hand smoke.

The public service announcement (PSA) graphically shows that while a smoker’s cough tells the smoker they have a health problem, a persistent cough over two weeks or more could indicate that problem is TB. The PSA shows a father smoking and coughing beside his daughter, noting that exposure to second-hand smoke brings the same risks. It ends with the stark warning that “Every bidi cigarette brings you and those around you closer to TB.” (ANI)