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World No Tobacco Day: Smokers face 50% higher risk of developing severe disease, death from COVID-19, says WHO


World No Tobacco Day is celebrated every year on May 31 and marks the yearly celebration where the World Health Organization (WHO) informs the public on the dangers of using tobacco.

In view of the current coronavirus situation, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on May 28 said that smokers have up to a 50% higher risk of developing severe disease and death from COVID-19. 

"So quitting is the best thing smokers can do to lower their risk from this coronavirus, as well as the risk of developing cancers, heart disease and respiratory illnesses," Ghebreyesus added. 

The WHO chief also urged all countries to play their part by joining the WHO campaign and creating tobacco-free environments that give people the information, support and tools they need to quit, and quit for good.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also gave special recognition awards for tobacco control to the Minister of Health and Family Welfare of India, Dr Harsh Vardhan and to the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, UK.

"Dr Harsh Vardhan was instrumental in the 2019 national legislation that bans E-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) in India," the WHO said in a statement. 

As per WHO, roughly 39% of men and 9% of women use tobacco globally and the highest smoking rates are currently found in Europe at 26%, with projections only showing a 2% decrease by 2025 if urgent government action is not taken.

This is to be noted that the Member States of the World Health Organization created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes. 

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