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Time to take tobacco dependence treatment seriously

21 Jan 2016

Published in The Lancet on 20 January, an article titled ‘Time to take tobacco dependence treatment seriously’ states that tobacco addiction poses one of the largest public health threats to the global population.


Article authors Professors Martin Raw, Judith Mackay and Srinath Reddy (past World Heart Federation President), note that relatively simple, effective cessation interventions now exist which could be put in place quickly and affordably. These include:

• All countries establishing an official national treatment strategy

• Recording tobacco use in all patient records

• Training healthcare workers to routinely give brief advice to stop

• Low cost treatments like automated text messaging and affordable medications

Professor Raw, Director of the International Centre for Tobacco Cessation:

“Helping people to stop sooner, rather than later, will save lives. Measures such as tax increases, restrictions on smoking in public places and media campaigns create demand for cessation support. I believe that we then have an obligation to offer treatment to those who need it – especially as treatment works.”

 • Tobacco-related diseases kill more than five million people each year (World Health Organization/WHO).

• Six years ago the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) parties adopted guidelines calling for cessation treatment to be integrated into tobacco control – since then only 13% of countries have developed comprehensive treatment services (WHO MPOWER).

• Healthcare systems and healthcare professionals have a central role to play in helping their patients to stop.

• Tobacco addiction disproportionately affects low- and middle-income countries, which have fewer resources with which to fight back.

WHO’s official smoking statistics and MPOWER report can be accessed on the WHO website.

For more information on tobacco dependence, please visit Global Bridges, an organization that the World Heart Federation is pleased to collaborate with and which connects and mobilizes an international network of healthcare professionals and organizations dedicated to advancing effective tobacco dependence treatment and advocating for proven tobacco control policies.