New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday launched ‘tobacco-app”>Quit Tobacco App’ to help people kick the cigarette butt and give up the use of tobacco in all forms – including smokeless and other newer products.
Tobacco is deadly in every form. Innovative approaches such as this app are much needed to support people give up tobacco, which they may be aware is harmful, but are unable to quit for various reasons, said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, launching the app.
The app, the first such by WHO, and the first that targets all forms of tobacco, helps users to identify the triggers, set their targets, manage cravings, and stay focused to quit tobacco. Tobacco is the world’s leading cause of preventable death, and kills nearly 8 million persons every year. It claims 1.6 million lives in the WHO South-East Asia Region which is amongst the largest producers and consumers of tobacco products.
Tobacco use is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCD) including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic lung diseases and diabetes. Tobacco users are also at higher risk of complication and severe disease in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. With a focused approach to control tobacco, as part of regional flagship to reduce NCD burden, countries have been accelerating the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and MPOWER package, a set of six cost-effective and high impact measures to reduce demand and supply of tobacco and tackle the tobacco epidemic.
As per the WHO Global Report on Trends in Prevalence of Tobacco Use 2000-2025 (4th edition, 2021) WHO South-East Asia Region recorded the fastest decline in tobacco use but continued to have the highest 432 million tobacco users, or 29% of its population.
The Region has 266 million smokeless tobacco users of the 355 million globally. The growing use of new and emerging products such as Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems/ ECigarettes, sheesha/hukkah are additional challenges to tobacco control. The Region has expanded tobacco surveillance to monitor tobacco use prevalence and tobacco control policies. Thailand was the first in Asia to implement Plain Packaging. Timor-Leste, Nepal, Maldives, India, and Sri Lanka have implemented large-sized graphic health warnings on tobacco packs. Six countries have banned ENDS (electronic cigarettes).
Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka are working towards moving tobacco farmers away from growing tobacco. Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste have established and scaled-up tobacco cessation services. The WHO tobacco-app>Quit Tobacco App, launched during WHO’s year-long ‘Commit to quit’ campaign, is the latest tobacco control initiative by the WHO South-East Asia Region.