The United Nations in Ethiopia on Monday kicked off activities to mark the 34th World-No-Tobacco Day with a call to tobacco users to commit to quit.
Marked every year on May 31, the World No Tobacco Day is an opportunity to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use, second-hand smoke exposure, and to discourage the use of tobacco in any form.
During the year-long campaign, under the global theme of “Commit to Quit”, UN Ethiopia will conduct various activities to raise awareness on the negative impact of tobacco on people’s health and wellbeing. The campaign will also serve as a call to action, advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption and engaging stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for tobacco control.
As the world continues to reel under the impact of COVID-19, the fear of contracting the disease is motivating more smokers to quit. Tobacco smokers have a higher risk of developing severe form of COVID-19 infection, and of dying from the disease. Worldwide, around 780 million people have the motivation to quit, but only 30% of them have access to the tools that can help them to do so. This has underlined the urgent need to provide people with the tools and resources they need to make a successful attempt at quitting.
The goal of the global campaign is to create an environment conducive to quitting tobacco through advocating for strong tobacco cessation policies; promoting increased access to cessation services; raising awareness of tobacco industry tactics; and empowering tobacco users to successfully quit through “quit & win” initiatives. The UN agencies in Ethiopia have joined hands to collectively achieve this goal and contribute towards the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
“All forms of tobacco use are harmful and there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke,” said Dr Indrajit Hazarika, OIC WHO Ethiopia. “Together as the UN family we commit to keep our community smoke-free.”
Dr. Hazarika said the agencies have agreed on a number of activities targeting staff and the people living in Ethiopia through a social media campaign and other activities. He added that the objective is to raise awareness regarding the risks of tobacco use and its impacts on health and socioeconomic wellbeing.
Every year, more than 8 million people die worldwide because of tobacco use. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
The World No Tobacco Day was launched in 1987 by Member States of the World Health Organization to ”draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes.”