By Hassan Zaggi
The Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has disclosed that eight million people die as a result of smoking annually globally.
He disclosed this in a statement while launching a year-long global campaign for World No Tobacco Day 2021.
“Smoking kills 8 million people a year, but if users need more motivation to kick the habit, the pandemic provides the right incentive,” said WHO Director-General.
According to the statement, quitting tobacco is challenging, especially with the added social and economic stresses that have come as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement revealed that, worldwide around 780 million people say they want to quit, but only 30% 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.
The new WHO Quit Challenge on WhatsApp and publication, the statement noted that: “More than 100 reasons to quit tobacco” are being released to mark the start of the campaign.
The “Commit to Quit”, the statement explained, 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, together with partners, will create and build-up digital communities where people can find the social support they need to quit. The focus will be on high burden countries* where the majority of the world’s tobacco users live.
WHO, therefore, 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.
The global health body, therefore, 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.
Strong cessation services, the WHO insists, improve health, save lives and save money.