Ginebra, Suiza - 06 de agosto de 2003
6 August 2003 | GENEVA .- The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged governments to include smoking cessation and treatment services as part of comprehensive tobacco control programmes, stressing that therapies for tobacco dependence can contribute substantially and immediately to health gains.
This call was made as WHO released its first policy recommendations for smoking cessation and the treatment of tobacco dependence at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health today. The guidelines – developed by world experts at a meeting in Moscow last year aim to provide countries with evidence based material as part of WHO’s support to countries wishing to implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)
The text of the FCTC recognizes that tobacco products are designed to create and maintain dependence, and that many of their constituent compounds are toxic and can cause cancer. The FCTC requires signatories to develop evidenceûbased guidelines, appropriate to national circumstances, to promote cessation and provide adequate treatment for tobacco dependence.
According to the World Bank, over 1 300 million people currently smoke and more than 70% of them are in low or middle income countries. Unless adult smokers are encouraged to quit, current statistics show that it will not be possible to reduce deaths from tobacco over the next 30 to 50 years.
“There is overwhelming evidence of the health benefits of quitting smoking, and the effectiveness of treating tobacco dependence, which is classified as a disorder,” said Dr Vera da Costa e Silva, WHO’s director for tobacco control.
“However, the public health sector in many countries is not investing in smokingûcessation services, and in most countries only limited steps have been taken to provide treatment, train healthûcare providers, and release financial resources. Smoking cessation is very often not seen as a public health priority, or included in governments" tobacco control strategies,” she said. Because of tobacco’s addictiveness, many smokers will need support to quit. Surveys show that about oneûthird of smokers try to quit every year; those who try to stop using willpower alone have only a 1 û 3% chance of longûterm success.
A supportive environment is needed to encourage smokers to quit: higher tobacco taxes, advertising bans and smokeûfree public places contribute to raising awareness and decreasing access to tobacco products.
A variety of options are available to individuals wanting to quit, including nicotine replacement therapy using gum, lozenges, patches and nasal sprays among other things. These steps can double the chances of quitting successfully in the longûterm. However, WHO advises that no single approach should be emphasized to the exclusion of the others because of varying efficacy, costûeffectiveness and acceptability within populations.
“Healthcare providers should not miss any opportunity to advocate and deliver smokingûcessation and treatment strategies to people wishing to quit. The role of policyûmakers, professionals and researchers will also be imperative in putting smoking cessation on the agenda,” concluded Dr Da Costa e Silva.