Smokers have up to a 50% higher risk of developing severe disease and death from Covid-19, so quitting is best thing smokers can do to lower their risk from Coronavirus, as well as the risk of developing cancers, heart disease and respiratory illnesses, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization said today while announcing the awards for World No Tobacco Day.
The Director-General’s Tobacco Control Recognition Awards went to the Minister of Health and Family Welfare of India, Dr Harsh Vardhan and to the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, United Kingdom.
The WHO said that Dr Harsh Vardhan was instrumental in the 2019 national legislation that bans E-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) in India. The Tobacco Control Research Group in the UK has worked relentlessly to expose tobacco industry attempts and tactics to weaken, block or delay tobacco control, thereby helping secure policy change nationally and globally.
Globally, roughly 39% of men and 9% of women use tobacco. The highest smoking rates are currently found in Europe at 26%, with projections only showing a 2% decrease by 2025 if urgent government action is not taken.
WHO's 'Commit to Quit’ tobacco campaign has also made resources from its 'Quitting Toolkit' freely available to more than a billion tobacco users, less than five months into the year-long campaign.
WHO launched the campaign to support those 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 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, and more.
"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," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.