The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that it is launching an initiative to help 1.3 billion tobacco users worldwide to stop the habit of smoking during this COVID-19 pandemic.
The WHO Director General, Mr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Friday at a routine briefing that the Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco will help people freely access the resources they need to quit tobacco including nicotine replacement therapy and access to a digital health worker for advice.
According to the UN health body, smoking kills eight million people per year an evidence revealing that smokers are more vulnerable than non-smokers to developing a severe case of COVID-19.
“But if users need more motivation to kick the habit, the pandemic provides the right incentive,” said Mr Tedros.
The initiative is led by WHO, together with the UN Interagency Task Force on Non-communicable Diseases (NCD).
The initiative brings together tech industry, pharmaceutical, and NGO partners like PATH and the Coalition for Access to NCD Medicines and Products.
As the first manufacturing partner of the initiative, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health said Friday that it has donated nearly 40,000 nicotine patches.
Mr Tedros said the WHO is in the final stages of adding more partners and encourages pharmaceutical and tech companies to join the initiative.
WHO will first launch the initiative in Jordan and then roll it out globally over the coming months, he added.