On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, the Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute, a leading institute dedicated to the research and treatment of chest diseases, celebrated in collaboration with the Society for Tobacco Control. The event, held at the institute’s Pental Memorial Golden Jubilee Auditorium, drew special attention to the commendable work of the National Tobacco Quitline Service (NTQLS).
Established seven years ago under the patronage of India’s Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, the NTQLS has been at the forefront of the national fight against tobacco and smoking addiction. Led by Professor Dr. Rajkumar, who has dedicated over two decades to this mission, the NTQLS has become a beacon of hope for many who wish to quit tobacco. In recognition of this work, Dr. Rajkumar represented India in a global meeting on tobacco control in China in 2014.
India’s first Quit Line Service, based at the Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute, was launched by Union Health Minister Hon’ble Shri Jai Prakash Nadda on 30 May 2016. Accompanying the launch was a toll-free number, 1800112356, which has since become a lifeline for thousands seeking to quit tobacco.
Over the years, the NTQLS has grown, both in its physical infrastructure and its impact. Starting in a single room with six counselor stations, the center expanded in 2020 under the aegis of Union Minister of State for Health, Shri Ashwani Choubey. The staff now comprises 64 individuals who serve in two shifts daily. By April 2023, the service has fielded over seven million calls, with over two million receiving counseling. Furthermore, a total of 156,644 individuals reported successfully quitting tobacco, largely due to the efforts of the NTQLS.
The service’s success has also led to the inclusion of 15 regional languages, making it accessible to a diverse group of individuals across the country. Moreover, the centers established in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Guwahati have provided training to individuals from neighboring countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan.
World No Tobacco Day at the Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute included inspiring speeches from Professors Jagdish Kaur, Vipin Aggarwal, Rama, Savita Roy, Manoj Khanna, Manoj Sinha, and Praveen Garg, who are integral to the operations of the NTQLS. The team underlined their commitment to their mission, stating, “those who have not started should not start, those who have started by mistake should quit,” and reaffirmed their readiness to assist anyone who needs help to quit.
The National Tobacco Quitline Service is indeed a powerful instrument in the battle against tobacco addiction, turning the tide one call at a time. With its steadfast commitment and unwavering support, it continues to shine as an example of effective public health intervention in India.