Policy changes urgently needed to support tobacco cessation warn respiratory groups

On World No Tobacco Day (31 May 2021), the Forum of International Respiratory Associations (FIRS), of which the Global Initiative for Asthma – GINA is a founding member, calls on governments and policymakers to make greater political and financial commitments to and promote tobacco cessation services.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco use kills more than 8 million people each year. Tobacco use also remains the leading and most preventable cause of lung disease among both adults and children, and it is well understood that the “big five” respiratory diseases (asthma, COPD, lung cancer, tuberculosis, pneumonia) and other acute lower respiratory diseases . duct infections are caused or exacerbated by the use of tobacco products and exposure to secondhand smoke.

Despite this, smoking cessation treatment remains poorly implemented in healthcare around the world; according to the WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, only 23 countries worldwide offer strike services that, according to the WHO, meet best-practice levels.

Tobacco and nicotine addiction is not a lifestyle choice, but a chronic relapse disorder that needs to be treated accordingly. When nicotine, the psychoactive component of tobacco, is inhaled, it reaches the brain quickly and is highly addictive. Most smokers want to quit, but evidence has shown that only 3–5 percent of people who try to quit without professional medical support succeed after 6 months, emphasizing the need for professional help when they quit tobacco.

In support of the WHO’s World No Tobacco Day 2021 year-long global campaign to help 100 million people quit tobacco, FIRS encourages policymakers and healthcare regulators to take urgent action to:

  • Make greater political and financial commitments to support tobacco and nicotine product strike services that provide evidence-based effective treatments, including behavioral support or motivational interviewing in combination with pharmacotherapy.
  • Optimize health systems by providing system-level tobacco cessation interventions, from primary care to secondary care, community programs and internet support.
  • Supports the implementation and enforcement of comprehensive tobacco control policies, such as those set out in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, to prevent the use of tobacco products and to protect public health.

The unprecedented response to the COVID-19 crisis demonstrates more than ever the importance and effectiveness of meaningful policy changes to address health challenges. FIRS encourages policymakers to act now and help people stop using tobacco for good, protect public health and save lives, and reduce the burden on healthcare systems caused by tobacco product use.


About the Forum of International Respiratory Associations (FIRS)

The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) is an organization comprised of the world’s leading international respiratory associations working together to improve lung health worldwide: American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), American Thoracic Society (ATS), Asian Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR), Asociación Latino Americana De Tórax (ALAT), European Respiratory Society (ERS), International Union Against Tuberculosis and Long Diseases (The Union), Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS), Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA ), and the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (GOLD).

The goal of FIRS is to unite and improve efforts to improve lung health through the joint work of its more than 100,000 members worldwide.

For more information on FIRS please contact Lisa Roscoe: lisa.roscoe@firsnet.org