As World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is marked today, World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that smokers risk 50 per cent chance of contracting acute diseases and deaths from COVID-19.
It cautioned that quitting the habit reduces the risk of getting cancers, heart diseases and respiratory illnesses.
WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a statement, yesterday, said: “Smokers have up to a 50 per cent higher risk of developing severe disease and death from COVID-19. So, quitting is the best thing smokers can do to lower their risk from this coronavirus, as well as the risk of developing cancers, heart diseases and respiratory illnesses.
“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. Quit for good.”
The Ethiopian said the global agency launched the campaign to support millions of active tobacco users taking steps to discard the attitude, but still need help to succeed.
Speaking on this year’s theme, “Commit to Quit”,
Executive Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Akinbode Oluwafemi, observed that the most effective step at getting people to quit or not initiated into tobacco addiction was to dismantle anything that promotes smoking or people that encourage youths to pick up the habit.
He continued: “Government should remove those conditions by implementing the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC)-compliant laws and policies. So, we are using the occasion of this year’s WNTD to call on the Nigerian government to begin comprehensive enforcement of the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019.
“Government must enforce the ban on tobacco advertising and promotion, including the embargo on smoking at movie and entertainment platforms, enforce graphic health warning on tobacco packs and ban on sale of tobacco products to underage and raise taxes on tobacco products, among others.”
“The laws are there and government must rise up to the occasion to implement them.”
This is even as a new study suggested that there were record 1.1 billion smokers globally in 2019 with nearly eight million related deaths.
Researchers pointed out that progress in the anti-smoking fight had retarded in the last 10 years.