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WHO preaches abstinence from tobacco, harps on wellness

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Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

“Quitting tobacco is one of the best things any person can do for his/her health,” Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has stated.

In his remarks on the seventh WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic released yesterday, he noted: “The MPOWER package gives governments the practical tools to help people kick the habit, adding years to their life and life to their years.”

Ghebreyesus said governments should implement cessation services as part of efforts to ensure universal health coverage for their citizens.

Tobacco contains the stimulant alkaloid nicotine and harmala alkaloids. Dried tobacco leaves are mainly used in production of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, shishas as well as e-cigarettes (both rechargeable and disposable), e-cigars, e-pipes and vapourisers. They can also be consumed as snuff, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco and snus (a type of moist powdered tobacco, typically held in the mouth between the lips and gums).

Tobacco use is a risk factor for many diseases, especially those affecting the heart, liver and lungs, accounting also for most cancers.

In 2008, the global agency named tobacco use as the world’s single greatest preventable cause of death.

MPOWER, one of the most effective measures from the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), has proven to reduce demand for tobacco. It has been shown to save lives and reduce healthcare expenditure.

The MPOWER report was launched in 2007 to promote government’s action on six tobacco control strategies.

According to the new WHO report, most governments are making progress in the fight against the substance, with five billion people today living in countries that have introduced smoking bans, graphic warnings on packaging and other effective control measures – four times more than what obtained a decade ago.

However, the new document regrettably indicated that a good number of nations were still to religiously implement policies that could help people quit tobacco.

The focus of the latest report is on the progress countries have made in helping tobacco users abandon the dangerous habit.

The survey is being launched today in Brazil, a country that has become the second after Turkey, to fully implement all the MPOWER measures at the highest level.

WHO’s Global Ambassador for Non-communicable Diseases and Injuries and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Michael R. Bloomberg, said the report shows government-led efforts to help people quit tobacco work when effectively implemented.


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