Pharma, tech and social media companies join forces with WHO to launch the Tobacco Cessation Consortium during World Health Summit in Berlin, Germany

During the World Health Summit in Berlin, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, formally launched the Tobacco Cessation Consortium, a group of partners in the private and public sectors to help people access essential cessation support and treatment to deal with tobacco dependence.

This business coalition will support WHO’s work on tobacco cessation and identify mutually beneficial ways for scaling up access for tobacco users to support for quitting tools and medications. The COVID-19 pandemic has stressed the importance of working together and leveraging each other’s resources and work in public health.

“The WHO Tobacco Cessation Consortium is open for business. We are working with private sector companies and other partners to support people to quit tobacco and improve their health. Immediately after quitting, a person’s body starts repairing the parts that were injured from tobacco ̶ in just 2-12 weeks, circulation improves and lung function increases,” said Ruediger Krech, Director of the Health Promotion Department at the World Health Organization.

“We are proud to be part of the launch of this Consortium to address the global tobacco epidemic. As a company committed to advancing public health, we commend WHO for bringing together public and private sector partners to strengthen efforts in smoking cessation. Together, we can make a profound impact on the health and well-being of tobacco users around the world,” said Thibaut Mongon, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Chairman, Consumer Health, Johnson & Johnson.

“Against the backdrop of a growing population of youth and an increase in the burden of noncommunicable diseases, the number of tobacco users in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to increase to 62 million by 2025 [1]. Without the innovative, last mile interventions proposed by the WHO Tobacco Cessation Consortium such as accessible digital tools, we will not be able to stop or even slow down the increase of deaths due to tobacco in Sub-Saharan Africa, said Debbie Rogers, CEO,
Helping people quit tobacco use is vital to ending the tobacco epidemic. Tobacco cessation is a critical public health investment. It saves lives, protects health and ultimately, cuts government costs.

Globally, an estimated 1.3 billion people use tobacco products, and 80% of those tobacco users live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness is the heaviest.

In Germany alone, where the Consortium was launched, 23% of the adult population are currently smoking tobacco [1].

In the context of the pandemic, evidence has revealed that smokers are at an increased risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes and death.

When tobacco users become aware of the dangers of tobacco, most want to quit [3]. Latest numbers show that 60% of tobacco users worldwide have expressed a desire to quit, but only 30% have access to comprehensive tobacco cessation services.

The Consortium has five pillars and will focus on solving challenges in collaboration with partners.

Pharmacotherapies and supply – to ensure steady delivery of products and medicines that help people quit tobacco

Health systems strengthening – to ensure that people have the support they need to quit

Advocacy and policy – to speak to people in power and advocate for increased investment in cessation

Research and development – to identify new innovations and research ideas

Digital and technology – to reach more people through digital channels and promote the tools developed by our partners.

Source: WHO