The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, has revealed that tobacco kills half of its users every year.
According to WHO, about 1.2 million non-smokers die from exposure to tobacco smoke.
She made this known in her message to the international community to commemorates the 2021 World No Tobacco Day.
Moeti hinted that, Tobacco use harms nearly every organ in the human body.
Even smoking one cigarette a day can seriously harm a person’s health. Tobacco use can lead to lung, mouth, throat, oesophagus, stomach, bowel and other cancers.
It increases the risk of chest and lung infections, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other conditions. There is no safe form of tobacco.
She stated that, “The theme this year is “Commit to Quit” because the choice to stop tobacco use is in our hands.
Millions of people have been motivated to quit tobacco during the COVID-19 pandemic because of evidence showing tobacco smoking impairs lung function, making it harder for the body to fight off corona virus and other diseases.
“Of the 1.3 billion tobacco users globally, 60% have expressed the desire to quit but only 30% have access to the tools to do so successfully. Digital solutions can help to fill this gap and so at WHO we have introduced “Florence” a digital health worker who gives brief advice on how to quit and links people with the tools and solutions that can help.
“More than 75 million people in the African Region use some form of tobacco. This burden is likely to increase as consumer purchasing power improves coupled with intensive efforts by the tobacco industry to expand the African market. Public health advocates should therefore actively pursue counter-marketing campaigns that highlight the many risks of tobacco use.
“As WHO, we are supporting countries to scale-up programmes to help people quit tobacco, especially at the primary health care and community levels. So far support to quit is available in primary health care facilities in 11 countries and in Angola, Botswana and Zambia these services are offered at no cost to consumers. National toll-free lines where tobacco users can call and get advice are available in six countries.
Nicotine replacement therapy is sold in pharmacies in 19 countries with governments fully covering the costs in Eswatini, Mauritius and Seychelles. Nicotine replacement therapy is included in the essential medicines list in Algeria, Ethiopia and South Africa. Burkina Faso is implementing “Tobacco Cessation,” a mobile text messaging-based solution.l”, she explained.