The World Health Organization designates May 31st as World No Tobacco Day, a day to encourage people to quit smoking. The theme for 2021 is Commit To Quit. And considering the combined effects of COVID-19 and being a smoker, there’s good reason to quit.
World No Tobacco Day 2021 campaign – Commit to Quit
The saying goes that “quitters never win,” but in the case of tobacco, quitters are the real winners.
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 without adequate support, quitting can be incredibly challenging.
The nicotine found in tobacco is highly addictive and creates dependence. The behavioural and emotional ties to tobacco use – like having a cigarette with your coffee, craving tobacco, feelings of sadness or stress – make it hard to kick the habit.
With professional support and cessation services, tobacco users double their chances of quitting successfully.
Currently, over 70% of the 1.3 billion tobacco users worldwide lack access to the tools they need to quit successfully. This gap in access to cessation services is only further exacerbated in the last year as the health workforce has been mobilized to handle the pandemic.
That’s why WHO launched a year-long campaign for World No Tobacco Day’s – “Commit to Quit” theme. The campaign aims to empower 100 million tobacco users to make a quit attempt by creating networks of support and increasing access to services proven to help tobacco users quit successfully.
70% of smokers may have no access to help in quitting, but 100% of smokers including children under 14 in developing countries have daily access to tobacco products and advertising that encourages it with few laws restricting it. As laws restricted smoking in wealthy countries and incomes in developing countries grew, the death merchants (tobacco companies) switched their focus. Governments in wealthy G20 countries allow and encourage them to predate on children and call it “international trade” and a “domestic problem in their country, not ours”. I call it racism, because the G20 countries are mostly white and developing countries are mostly Brown and Black. (Most of the tobacco peddlars are in the US or UK, but there’s one each in China and Japan.)
A big part of the problem is money. Tobacco wastes health care resources on treatment, and it’s not taxed enough. The World Health Organization estimates US$1.4 trillion is wasted annually due to tobacco. Australia did the right thing by raising cigarette prices (AUD$35 for a pack of 20 coffin nails, or US$27) but here in Taiwan, it’s still a piddling NT$100 (US$3.60). It’s still profitable to sell death, so they do.
The COVID-19 pandemic makes quitting and prevention even more important. Contrary to myths, smoking and vaping increases the likelihood of dying from COVID-19. Smoking does NOT “protect” them. Multiple reputable sources confirm this, only those taking money from the tobacco industry disagree.
More below the fold.