ADDIS ABEBA – The World Health Organisation [WHO] has launched on Tuesday a year-long global campaign for World No Tobacco Day 2021 to help 100mln people quit tobacco.
The campaign, “Commit to Quit”, focuses on 22 countries including Ethiopia.
The new WHO Quit Challenge on WhatsApp and publication “More than 100 reasons to quit tobacco” are being released today to mark the start of the campaign.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to millions of tobacco users saying they want to quit. The campaign will support at least 100 million people as they try to give up tobacco through communities of quitters, according to the WHO.
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.
WHO, together with its partners, aims to provide people with the tools and resources they need to make a successful quit attempt.
“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, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
WHO says smokers are at higher risk of developing severe disease and death from COVID-19. Tobacco is also a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes.
Moreover, people living with these conditions are more vulnerable to severe COVID-19. Both global and regional cessation tools will be rolled out as part of the campaign.
“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 UN health agency has 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.
The agency, on the other hand, will create and build-up digital communities where people can find the social support they need to quit, with the support of major private companies including Allen Carr’s Easyway, Amazon Web Services, Cipla, Facebook and WhatsApp, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Praekelt, and Soul Machines.