Dr Sumedha Kushwaha, a dentist by qualification, was horrified to see a 13-year-old boy unable to open his mouth due to oral cancer in 2007.

He was only a 6-year-old when he was introduced to gutka by some of the older boys in his village, and by the time he was 13, he had started to consume tobacco regularly.

“Seeing the youth throw their life away in this way was one of the biggest reasons why I decided to become a trained counsellor,” says Dr Kushwaha.

She decided to help addicts overcome their habit and also spread awareness about the ill effects of all such substance abuse.

During her training, she worked with various NGOs that were in the space of oral health and early cancer detection and awareness.

“The entire thrust of all we learnt was about cancer. In a majority of cases, we found that the cause for it was the consumption of tobacco,” she says.

Her husband Dr Nganba, too, was a chain smoker and a tobacco addict. “I have seen how difficult the entire process of letting the habit go is,” she adds.

A former smoker, Dr Nganba says that the first ten days of giving up tobacco are the hardest. “Find ways to keep yourself engaged so that you are busy with other things,” he says.

“There are times when you just want to inhale the smoke and in times like that having the support of your family is of great importance,” he adds.

He shares that one must brace themselves for mood swings. “It is ultimately a mind game…ensure that you are in control.”

In August 2014, Dr Kushwaha and her team set up ATTAC (Aim To Terminate Tobacco and Cancer) to provide early counselling to fight addiction.

“Most of our funding comes from the Yuvraj Singh Foundation (YouWeCan Foundation) with whom I have been associated,” she informs.

ATTAC has impacted over 30,000 people so far by conducting counselling sessions, awareness programmes, and various oral health camps.