WHO Releases Global Guidelines to Aid Tobacco Users in Quitting

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World Health Organisation (WHO) has released a comprehensive guideline aimed at helping the more than 750 million tobacco consumers globally who wish to quit.
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that this new initiative focuses on a range of interventions, including behavioural support, digital cessation tools, and pharmacological treatments.
He said the guidelines target a variety of tobacco products such as cigarettes, waterpipes, smokeless tobacco products, cigars, roll-your-own tobacco, and heated tobacco products (HTPs).
The WHO boss stated that with over 60 per cent of the world's 1.25 billion tobacco users expressing a desire to quit, the initiative seeks to bridge the gap for the 70 per cent who currently lack access to effective cessation services due to health system resource limitations.
“This guideline marks a crucial milestone in our global battle against these dangerous products,” stated Dr Ghebreyesus. “It empowers countries with the essential tools to effectively support individuals in quitting tobacco and alleviate the global burden of tobacco-related diseases.”
Dr Rüdiger Krech, director of Health Promotion at WHO, emphasised the struggle of quitting smoking, highlighting the need for robust support systems.
He said, “We need to deeply appreciate the strength it takes and the suffering endured by individuals and their loved ones to overcome this addiction,” he said.
“These guidelines are designed to help communities and governments provide the best possible support and assistance for those on this challenging journey.”
The guidelines recommend combining pharmacotherapy with behavioural interventions to significantly increase quitting success rates.
Treatments recommended in the document include varenicline, Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), bupropion, and cytisine.
The apex health agency encourages countries to offer these treatments at low or no cost, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
To improve global access to these medications, WHO initiated a prequalification procedure in 2023. In April 2024, Kenvue's nicotine gum and patch became the first WHO-prequalified NRT products.
WHO recommends routine brief health worker counselling (30 seconds to 3 minutes) in healthcare settings, alongside more intensive behavioural support through individual, group, or phone counselling. Digital interventions such as text messaging, smartphone apps, and internet programmes are also endorsed as supplementary or self-management tools.
Krech reiterated the agency’s call to healthcare providers, policymakers, and stakeholders to adopt and implement these guidelines to enhance tobacco cessation efforts and improve the health of millions worldwide.

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