World No Tobacco Day 2024: Support Innovative Strategies to End Smoking

World No Tobacco Day 2024 calls for a renewed commitment to innovative and evidence-based strategies to end smoking. By embracing modern approaches and leveraging scientific research, we can move closer to a smoke-free world, saving millions of lives.

Each year, on 31 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the health community worldwide join forces to raise awareness about the harms of smoking. World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) brings to light the devastating health effects of tobacco use, drawing attention to the tobacco epidemic, which results in 8 million deaths every year.

According to 2022 data, worldwide, at least 37 million young people aged 13–15 years use some form of tobacco. In the WHO European Region, 11.5% of boys and 10.1% of girls aged 13–15 years are tobacco users (4 million).

Whilst smoking rates have fallen significantly in some countries over the last few years, they have remained stubbornly high across the globe. Currently, the WHO Southeast Asian Region has the highest percentage of the population using tobacco at 26.5%, while the European Region is not far behind at 25.3%.

Notably, countries that have embraced harm reduction strategies, like the UK and Sweden, are close to declaring themselves "smoke-free" — defined as having fewer than 5% smokers in the population.

Should the W.H.O. Embrace Innovation?

New strategies to prevent and control cigarette consumption are highly needed. It’s a stark truth that smoking is addictive and not easy to quit, but the W.H.O. should diligently advocate for evidence-based methods that might help smokers quit.

The goal of evidence-based research has always been to provide reliable and valid evidence that can inform policies, practices, and interventions based on scientific evidence rather than on anecdotal evidence, personal experience, or opinion.

International evidence such as the Cochrane Review and Swedish studies demonstrates that the most successful methods of quitting smoking involve modern alternative nicotine products such as regulated electronic cigarettes, cytisine, varenicline, and other modern nicotine products such as Nicotine Replacement Therapies as well as nicotine pouches and heated products.

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