Aim: To assess the knowledge and awareness of smoking-related health risks and smoking cessation methods among medical students in Telangana, India.
Materials and methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in two medical colleges and a self-designed questionnaire consisting of 14 questions was deployed to 455 medical students in their 1st (52%), 2nd (24%), and 3rd years (24%) of study. Except for questions about age, sex, and education which were open-ended, the rest of the 11 questions were categorized into basic knowledge, effects of smoking on different systems, and awareness of cessation methods, and were close-ended with yes/no responses. These responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics.
Results: The study found that, on average, medical students were well aware of the risks of tobacco smoking on cancer incidence (98.96%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (98.33%), immune system (95.66%), fetus development (98%), and mental health (96%). However, knowledge concerning its potential impacts on gastritis (77%), cataract formation (58%), and metabolic diseases like diabetes (61%) was poor. Furthermore, participants had only limited knowledge about smoking cessation methods like counseling (66.30%), and nicotinic drugs (66.83%). Furthermore, participants had poor knowledge of smoking cessation aids such as nonnicotinic drugs (29.28%), telephonic support (20.66%), and mobile applications (24.75%). The 1st-year students had the overall lowest levels of knowledge, while 3rd-year students had higher knowledge levels of all smoking cessation methods.
Conclusion: The present study highlights the need for further educational programs among medical students. Including specific modules on tobacco in the medical curriculum can have a potential impact. In particular, efforts should be made to increase awareness of smoking cessation methods for actionable.
Clinical significance: Increasing awareness about tobacco and its detrimental effects among medical students, clinicians, and healthcare workers can significantly improve tobacco control at a national scale.