World No Tobacco Day 2021: Date, history, theme, significance amid Covid-19
- World No Tobacco Day 2021: Here’s all you need to know about when is World No Tobacco Day, its history, theme this year and its significance amid Covid-19
According to the World Health Organisation, the Covid-19 pandemic has made millions of tobacco users want to quit smoking. With nearly 60% of tobacco users around the world wanting to quit smoking but only 30% of the global population having access to quality tobacco cessation services, WHO launched a global campaign under the slogan “Commit to Quit” to celebrate the World No Tobacco Day 2021.
Aiming to help 100 million people quit tobacco use through various initiatives and digital tools, WHO’s campaign can help create healthier conditions that promote tobacco cessation.
Celebrated around the world every year on May 31, World No Tobacco Day was created by the Member States of WHO in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes.
History and importance:
In 1987, the World Health Assembly passed Resolution WHA40.38, calling for April 7, 1988, to be "a world no-smoking day." In 1988, Resolution WHA42.19 was passed, calling for the celebration of World No Tobacco Day, every year on May 31.
This yearly celebration aims to raise awareness amid the global citizens about not only the dangers of using tobacco but also the business practices of tobacco companies, what WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.
The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2021 is "Commit to Quit". Under this theme, the WHO aims to promote tobacco cessation through supporting robust tobacco cessation policies, improving access to cessation services, raising awareness about the tactics of the tobacco industry and supporting people who want to quit tobacco via Quit and Win initiatives.
Significance amid Covid-19:
In a statement, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said, “Smokers have up to a 50% higher risk of developing severe disease and death from Covid-19, so quitting is best thing smokers can do to lower their risk from this coronavirus, as well as the risk of developing cancers, heart disease and respiratory illnesses.”
He added, “We urge all countries to play their part by joining the WHO campaign and creating tobacco-free environments that give people the information, support and tools they need to quit, and quit for good.”
As per Dr Tilak Suvarna, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute, “Covid predominantly affects the lungs and smoking too damages the lungs. Worldwide research suggests that there is a higher incidence of severe lung complications following Covid in smokers as compared to non-smokers. The World Health Organisation released a scientific brief earlier this year showing that smokers are at higher risk of developing severe disease and death from Covid-19. These findings of a negative impact of smoking should not be surprising given the fact that smokers have been traditionally known to be more susceptible to infections, especially respiratory infections like flu, pneumonia and tuberculosis.”
Given that smokers are more likely to suffer from heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic lung disease and diabetes, it is essential to note that all of these are important comorbidities for developing severe illness and adversely affecting the clinical outcome in Covid affected patients. Elaborating on weakening of the immune system and increased risk of Covid-19 transmission by smokers, Dr Tilak Suvarna revealed, “Tobacco smoke contains toxic chemicals which cause damages to the linings of the airways and the lungs. The chemicals in tobacco smoke suppress the activity of different types of immune cells leading to weakening of immunity and thus impairing one’s ability to fight the Covid infection.
The act of smoking involves the fingers and possibly contaminated cigarettes coming in contact with the lips and thus increasing the risk of transmission of virus from hand to mouth. Moreover, chewing tobacco products is associated with usually spitting in public places which also accelerates the risk of transmission of Covid through saliva droplets.”
WHO’s Quit Challenge reportedly gives daily notifications of tips and encouragement for up to 6 months to help people remain tobacco free. It is available for free on WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger and WeChat.