World No Tobacco Day, Commit to Quit

A rose in an ashtray: the image chosen for the World No Tobacco Day, established in 1988 by the World Health Organization to turn the spotlight on prevention and awareness on the dangers of smoke, and to offer help during the complex process of quitting.
“Commit to Quit” is the slogan of the campaign launched this year. On the occasion of the recurrence: more than 8 million people die every year from cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes related to the consumption of tobacco. Around the world, about 780 million smokers, out of the 1.3 billion tobacco users, declare that they want to quit, but only 30% of them have access to the tools that can help them to do so. In Italy, the consumption of tobacco products is still the main cause of mortality and preventable morbidity of our country and it is estimated that over 93,000 deaths are attributable to tobacco smoking, with the direct and indirect costs of over 26 billion euros.
The recent Covid-19 pandemic has affected public health issues at a global level: the imposition of measures to prevent contagion – considering that the vector of viral transmission is via droplets – has brought scientists to investigate the relationship between viral contagion and smoke. Although there are no exhaustive studies on the subject, the WHO, in March 2020, already underlined that smoking cannot protect against Covid-19, given that tobacco involves “a reduced lung capacity which would significantly increase the risk of serious diseases”.
Various studies have shown that smoking cigarettes not only does not appear to have a protective effect against contagion, but that smoke is a negative prognostic factor for such patients, who are more likely to resort to intensive care or mechanical ventilation, or to show heavier Covid-19 symptoms than non-smokers.
The WHO, for its part, re-launches stating that “usually people who give up are not winners, but in the case of tobacco, those who give up are the real winners”. The WHO explains that “When it emerged that smokers risk to develop more severe diseases, in conjunction with the infection from Covid-19, compared to non-smokers, millions of smokers were led to to give tobacco up. But without adequate support, quitting smoking can be a very difficult challenge”.
Nicotine, in fact, is addictive and creates dependence, and the behavioral and emotional link to tobacco makes quitting very complicated. For this reason, in Italy, there is a professional support system whose purpose is to help smokers to quit and become former smokers: the Against Smoking toll free phone number is 800554088, it belongs to the National Institute of Health and provides a national, anonymous and free service which for decades has been supporting smokers in their quitting process through various initiatives and solutions. The anti-smoking centers were also present, although the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on their operation. Despite the persistence of the difficulties due to the pandemic situation – explains the National Institute of Health – thanks to the availability of service operators, the census, launched in 2021, was nevertheless carried out and counts 268 active Anti-Smoking Centers in Italy”.