The World Health Organization (WHO) has lauded the mTobaccoCessation programme of the Government of India, mCessation.
In India every year, an estimated 1 million people die from tobacco-related illnesses, all of which could have been avoided by stopping tobacco use.
The prevalence of tobacco use across India makes offering cessation support an essential part of any tobacco control strategy.
Almost 50% of men in India regularly use tobacco, exposing them and their families to tobacco-related deaths and diseases. However, access to cessation clinics has traditionally limited the number of people able to access the support they need.
During the past 12 months, the government of India, together with WHO and International Telecommunications Union (ITU), have been working to overcome this problem by using mobile phones to significantly increase population access to cessation programs.
Users of the India mCessation program self-enroll through a missed call (to 011-22901701) or web registration service, and then receive tailored advice and support via daily and weekly SMS messages sent to their mobiles.
The program provides targeted support to help people overcome the personal challenge of maintaining efforts to quit tobacco use. It also generates real-time data on people who join the initiative, how they are using it and if they are quitting or not.
The impact of the Indian initiative on access to cessation services has been huge. Since January 2016, approximately 2 million people have registered thanks to the Ministry of Health’s nationwide promotion of the mCessation program, which ranks as the world’s largest.
India’s experiences are also being shared through the WHO-ITU initiative with other countries developing mTobaccoCessation services, including Tunisia and the Philippines.
Link to the WHO news release:
Link to the WHO mTobaccoCessation web page:
Link to India’s mCessation Programme home page:
Link to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) fact sheet on India (2009):