WHO Director-General Approves Tobacco Cessation Consortium

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Press Release:– When the news came out that smokers were more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19 compared to non-smokers, it triggered millions of smokers to want to quit tobacco. But only 30% of the world’s 1.3 billion tobacco users have access to the tools to help them to quit successfully.

The world continues to see a decline in the global number of tobacco users, marking important progress in the fight to protect people from the dangers of tobacco. But despite significant progress, many countries are still not adequately implementing policies to support tobacco users to quit.

To bridge this gap, WHO is working together with partners to support countries in scaling up tobacco cessation. The WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, welcomed the establishment of a global WHO Tobacco Cessation Consortium (“The Consortium”), a mechanism for engaging all relevant stakeholders including non-State Actors in the global effort to make comprehensive cessation support available to all.

The Consortium will have multiple functions, but ultimately the aim is for all tobacco users, particularly those in low- and middle-income countries, to be aware of, and have access to available and affordable evidence-based management and treatment services for tobacco dependence, to help them quit. Examples of potential activities include:

  • Market shaping of nicotine replacement therapies (NRT), bupropion and varenicline, the three essential medicines for tobacco cessation to make them accessible and affordable in countries.
  • Pooling of funds for WHO’s tobacco cessation activities worldwide.
  • Serving as an incubator and hub for innovative solutions including digital technology solutions, such as chat bots, AI tool etc., including working closely with the Be Healthy Be Mobile Initiative of WHO-ITU on use of mobile applications.
  • Providing guidance on R&D focused on tobacco dependence treatment.
  • Serving as a knowledge hub for countries to obtain the necessary resources and guidance needed for scaling up cessation services, tools, including updating their national essential medicines lists.
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Global investment case for tobacco cessation

To improve access to these effective cessation services, greater financial investment by countries is critical. The Global Investment Case for Tobacco Cessation presents data from a return-on-investment (ROI) analysis of 124 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The report reveals that USD$1.68 per capita invested in comprehensive tobacco cessation interventions (three population-level interventions + NRT, bupropion and varenicline) over a 10-year period (2021-2030) results in 152 million successful quitters and 2.7 million lives saved by 2030 in LMICs.

We know the cost of inaction – millions of deaths every year. We know the cost of action – $1.68 per capita per year. The case for investment in these interventions has never been clearer.

To help countries, WHO has also developed a national investment case methodology which uses economic data to assess economic and political priorities, analyze the current economic burden of tobacco use and quantify the costs and benefits of interventions to curb tobacco use.

There has never been a better time to quit tobacco. It’s time to invest in improving cessation services in all countries, especially in low- and middle-income countries towards a powerful shift in the global tobacco epidemic.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

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