The COVID-19 pandemic can provide an unanticipated motivation for smokers to quit the habit, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom said on Friday.
Tedros made the remarks at a media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, as WHO launched the Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco, which aims to help the world’s 1.3 billion tobacco users quit during the pandemic.
“Smoking kills eight million people a year, but if users need more motivation to kick the habit, the pandemic provides the right incentive,” said Tedros.
The WHO chief reiterated the agency’s stance that smokers are more vulnerable than non-smokers to developing a severe case of COVID-19.
The call to use the pandemic as an opportunity to quit smoking comes as the world’s COVID-19 infections surpassed 12.3 million with a death toll exceeding 556,000.
As the world continues its fight against the disease, the WHO dispatched two experts to China to meet with fellow scientists and learn about the progress made in understanding the animal reservoir for COVID-19 and how the disease jumped between animals and humans.
“This will help lay the ground work for the WHO-led international mission into the origins,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom.
Adhanom once again reiterated his earlier calls for unity in the fight against the disease, saying it is “the best shot we have.”