The indigenous population throughout the world suffers from a higher burden of diseases and also their tobacco abuse is often double than that of their non-Indigenous counterparts. A disproportionate burden of substance-related morbidity and mortality exists as a result. Although India has a large number of tribal communities, the state of Kerala accounts for 0.4% of the adivasis in India. Literature also shows that the adivasis of Wayanad district in Kerala are heavily dependent on smoking as well as smokeless forms of tobacco. There is high prevalence of tobacco related oral mucosal lesions among the Paniya tribe of Wayanad .Their ignorance about the adverse effects of tobacco is highly alarming and special attention is required for improving the health awareness and welfare of this tribal community. In India, the community education programs and awareness regarding the health hazards of tobacco use seems to have increased during recent times, but scaling up the antitobacco initiatives to cover the entire country, especially the tribal areas is an essential and challenging task
As a part of community sensitization programme by the Department of Public Health Dentistry, Amrita School of Dentistry, a three day Tobacco cessation counselling programmme (TCCP)was conducted for the Paniya tribes in Kalpetta, Kerala from September 1-3, 2015. In order to prepare for TCCP the postgraduates students in the department underwent a two day training workshop prior to the programme at NIMHANS, Bangalore. The TCCP started on 1st September, with tribal colonies in the interiors of Kalpetta, Wayanad district, being visited. Those present in the colony at the time of visit were interviewed after obtaining a verbal consent. A questionnaire probed their use of tobacco – prevalence, form, frequency etc. Their dependency was evaluated using Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence and their willingness to quit the habit was also assessed. Those indicating willingness to quit were counselled on the spot and also directed to Amrita Kripa Charitable Hospital, Kalpetta for further help. Around 103 people were interviewed and counseled across four colonies.In the near future we plan to undertake research to explore the various reasons for the indiscriminate use of tobacco among the tribals.