Commit to Quit: WHO Office in Pristina Calls for Better Support Services for Quitting Tobacco Use

On World No Tobacco Day, marked each year on 31 May, the World Health Organization draws attention to the harmful effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, and discourages the use of tobacco in any form. Under the theme “Commit to Quit”, this year’s WHO’s World No Tobacco Day campaign focuses on providing people with the tools and resources they need to quit and succeed in their attempt.

Tobacco is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes. The benefits of quitting tobacco are almost immediate. After just 20 minutes of quitting smoking, the heart rate drops. Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal. Within 2-12 weeks, the circulation improves and lung function increases. Within 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Within 5-15 years, the stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker. Within 10 years, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker. Within 15 years, the risk of heart disease is that of a non-smoker.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many tobacco users saying they want to quit, but not all of them have access to the tools that can help them do so. This is why WHO urges governments to ensure that citizens have access to comprehensive cessation services like brief advice, toll-free quit lines, mobile and digital cessation services, nicotine replacement therapies and other tools that are proven to help people quit. Strengthening tobacco cessation policies and services can improve health, save lives and save money”, said Dr Sergei Koryak, Head of WHO Office in Pristina

Tobacco users have an 84% increased chance of quitting successfully when they receive intensive advice from a physician. To help tobacco users quit, WHO together with partners developed new digital tools like the Quit Challenge chatbot and Artificial Intelligence digital health worker Florence, that mimics a healthcare worker to combat misinformation about COVID-19 and tobacco, provides brief advice for tobacco users to quit and refers tobacco users to digital cessation services.

The Quit Challenge gives daily notifications of tips and encouragement for up to 6 months to help people remain tobacco free. It is available for free on WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger and WeChat.

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. By ensuring that everyone in society – particularly the most vulnerable – can access cessation services, increases the chance of success and progress towards a tobacco-free future.

Other recommended by WHO resources for quitting tobacco are available here: https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-no-tobacco-day/world-no-tobacco-day-2021/quitting-toolkit.

For further information, please visit WHO website at: https://www.euro.who.int/en/media-centre/events/events/2021/05/world-no-tobacco-day-2021-commit-to-quit

Media Contacts
UN entities involved in this initiative
WHO
World Health Organization