A senior World Health Organization (WHO) official on Saturday said smokers have up to a 50 per cent higher risk of developing severe disease and death from COVID-19. Quitting is best thing smokers can do to lower their risk from this coronavirus, as well as the risk of developing cancers, heart disease and respiratory illnesses, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
The WHO’s ‘Commit to Quit’ campaign has made resources from its quitting toolkit freely available to more than a billion tobacco users, less than five months into the year-long campaign.
“We urge all countries to play their part by joining the WHO campaign and creating tobacco-free environments that give people the information, support and tools they need to quit and quit for good,” he said.
Also read: Turning point as number of male smokers drops: WHO
WHO Director-General Special Awards for World No Tobacco Day were announced for Minister of Health India Harsh Vardhan and University of Bath for exceptional achievement in tobacco control.
According to the statement, Dr Vardhan was instrumental in the 2019 national legislation that bans E-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) in India.
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Globally, roughly 39 per cent of men and 9 per cent of women use tobacco. The highest smoking rates are currently found in Europe at 26 per cent, with projections only showing a 2 per cent decrease by 2025 if urgent government action is not taken.
The Commit to Quit campaign supports millions of tobacco users who are actively taking steps to save their lives, but still need help to succeed.
The campaign is currently working directly with 29 focus countries. Each country agreed with the WHO on selected activities, including, running national awareness campaigns, releasing new digital tools, revising policies, engaging youth, training health workers, opening new cessation clinics, supporting nicotine replacement therapies through WHO partners, establishing national toll-free quit lines, making quitting courses available.