BY PATIENCE IVIE IHEJIRILKA, Abuja
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a year-long global campaign for World No Tobacco Day, 2021, with the tag: “Commit to Quit” aimed at supporting at least 100 million people as they try to give up tobacco through communities of quitters.
The organisation, in a statement yesterday, said “Commit to Quit” will help create healthier environments that are conducive to quitting tobacco by advocating for strong tobacco cessation policies; increasing access to cessation services; raising awareness of tobacco industry tactics, and empowering tobacco users to make successful quit attempts through “quit & win” initiatives.
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated that “Smoking kills 8 million people a year, but if users need more motivation to kick the habit, the pandemic provides the right incentive.”
Recall that the global health body had released a scientific brief earlier this year showing that smokers were at higher risk of developing severe disease and death from COVID-19, adding that tobacco was also a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes.
However, the organisation noted that millions of people worldwide want to quit tobacco.
“We must seize this opportunity and invest in services to help them be successful, while we urge everyone to divest from the tobacco industry and their interests,” said Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion.
The global health body, together with its partner, commit to create and build-up digital communities where people can find the social support they need to quit, adding that the focus will be on high burden countries where the majority of the world’s tobacco users live.
According to the statement, “WHO welcomes new contributions from partners, including private sector companies that have offered support, including Allen Carr’s Easyway, Amazon Web Services, Cipla, Facebook and WhatsApp, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Praekelt and Soul Machines.
“Quitting tobacco is challenging, especially with the added social and economic stresses that have come as a result of the pandemic. Worldwide around 780 million people say they want to quit, but only 30 per cent of them have access to the tools that can help them do so. Together with partners, WHO will provide people with the tools and resources they need to make a successful quit attempt.”
It said “To create environments conducive to quitting tobacco, WHO has worked with partners and countries around the globe to implement tobacco control measures that effectively reduce the demand for tobacco.
WHO calls on all governments to ensure their citizens have access to brief advice, toll-free quit lines, mobile and digital cessation services, nicotine replacement therapies and other tools that are proven to help people quit. Strong cessation services improve health, save lives and save money.”