Tobacco control mass media campaigns are cost-effective in reducing tobacco consumption in high-income countries, but similar evidence from low-income countries is limited. An evaluation of a 2009 smokeless tobacco control mass media campaign in India provided an opportunity to test its cost-effectiveness.Methods
Campaign evaluation data from a nationally representative household survey of 2898 smokeless tobacco users were compared with campaign costs in a standard cost-effectiveness methodology. Costs and effects of the Surgeon campaign were compared with the status quo to calculate the cost per campaign-attributable benefit, including quit attempts, permanent quits and tobacco-related deaths averted. Sensitivity analyses at varied CIs and tobacco-related mortality risk were conducted.Results
The Surgeon campaign was found to be highly cost-effective. It successfully generated 17 259 148 additional quit attempts, 431 479 permanent quits and 120 814 deaths averted. The cost per benefit was US$0.06 per quit attempt, US$2.6 per permanent quit and US$9.2 per death averted. The campaign continued to be cost-effective in sensitivity analyses.Conclusion
This study suggests that tobacco control mass media campaigns can be cost-effective and economically justified in low-income and middle-income countries. It holds significant policy implications, calling for sustained investment in evidence-based mass media campaigns as part of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy.