Around 5 million people annually die due to tobacco usage globally. Though the deaths are preventable, countries are not taking efforts to help their citizens quit smoking, says a new study.
"One of the barriers to countries doing more to offer support has been concern about cost," says Martin Raw, the co-author of the study and director of the International Center for Tobacco Cessation.
Researchers used four countries of varying income levels to represent cost-effectiveness: Nepal for low-income countries, India for middle-low-income countries, China for upper-middle-income countries, and the United Kingdom for high-income countries.
The international team of researchers behind the study offer six methods that are globally affordable and shown to work for quitting smoking.
- Healthcare advice: Even 5 minute interaction between patient and doctors about the use of tobacco and its effects were found to raise the quitting rates by 2%.
- Self-help materials: Books, pamphlets, medications and other printed information that can offer support increased the cessation by 2%.
- Telephone helplines: Trained counselors available 24/7 through phonelines for encouraging tobacco users for quitting raised cessation rates to 3%. But hotlines that require callers to dial in themselves did not help people quit explained the researchers.
- Automated text messaging: Motivational messages through texts can act as helpful reminders for smokers to quit. Quitting rates bumped up to 4% over no intervention.
- Cytisine: It is a cheap plant extract that binds with nicotine receptors to make smoking less satisfying. It also alleviates the withdrawal symptoms that make quitting so hard. According to the new model, cytisine could help people from all income levels quit smoking at a low cost. When used by people who smoke at least 15 cigarettes a day, cytisine has increased the cesstion rates to 6%.
- Nortriptyline: Researchers said that nortriptyline is a kind of antidepressant, therefore it requires constant monitoring from a healthcare professional. But when combined with behavioral support it showed 10% increase in quitting rates compared to a placebo.
"The beauty of these six solutions is that countries can essentially mix and match them according to their resources. Our report shows that every country in the world could be doing something. The more a country does, the more of their citizens' lives they will protect", says lead author of the study Robert West.