The World Health Organization on Tuesday launched a year-long global campaign to support at least 100 million people quit tobacco smoking.
Themed “Commit to Quit”, the campaign aims to 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 and win” initiatives.
According to the WHO, around 780 million globally have expressed interest in quitting tobacco but only 30% of them have access to the tools that can help them do so.
“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 Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion.
On his part, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom said the COVID-19 pandemic had provided the best platform for smokers to quit the habit.
“Smoking kills 8 million people a year, but if users need more motivation to kick the habit, the pandemic provides the right incentive,” he said.
Earlier this year, the WHO released a scientific brief saying smokers were at a higher risk of developing severe disease and death from COVID-19. Tobacco is also a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes. Moreover, people living with these conditions are more vulnerable to severe COVID-19.
The WHO called 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.