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WHO supports Health Ministry with about $1m to help thousands of smokers quit smoking

Jordan first country to benefit from new Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco

By JT - Jul 11,2020 - Last updated at Jul 11,2020

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AMMAN — A new Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco was launched on Friday by Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organisation (WHO), HH Princess Dina Mired, President of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and Thibault Mongon, Executive Vice President of Johnson & Johnson (J&J), during the WHO COVID-19 media briefing. 

Jordan will be the first country in the world to benefit from the new initiative that aims at helping its high rate of smokers quit smoking, according to a WHO statement.  

Stopping smoking is more important than ever as evidence reveals that smokers are more vulnerable than non-smokers to developing a severe case of COVID-19, read the statement.

The WHO received its first-ever donation of nicotine replacement therapy from J&J of about $1 million to cover thousands of smokers in Jordan, the statement said. 

The project will give people free access to NRT and to Florence, a digital health worker, based on artificial intelligence that dispels myths around COVID-19 and tobacco and helps people develop a personalised plan to quit tobacco. 

This initiative will complement the already available free of charge smoking cessation services through Ministry of Health clinics and other facilities, according to the statement. 

Princess Dina Mired said: “Given the alarming tobacco status — 82.5 per cent of Jordanian adult men smokers using tobacco or e-cigarettes and 80 per cent of the population being exposed to second-hand smoking — I am very pleased that Jordan is part of this initiative, which will help advocate for tobacco control and support civil society organisations in their continued efforts for a healthier smoke-free future for Jordan.” 

According to the 2019 national survey conducted by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with WHO (STEPS Survey), 44 per cent Jordanian adult smokers tried to quit smoking in the past 12 months yet only a small percentage of them have access to the tools that can help them do so, the statement said. 

These efforts will help the Ministry of Health respond to the ongoing pandemic and improve health outcomes of people who quit using tobacco. 

“Health Minister Saad Jaber praises the partnership with WHO to help support the Ministry of Health’s efforts in decreasing all forms of smoking in Jordan by providing free of charge medications and counselling services to Jordan’s population,” read the statement

Last week the government adopted a ban on smoking and vaping indoors in public places, the statement said.

Smoking is one of the main risk factors for Jordan’s rapidly rising non-communicable disease epidemic that is responsible for almost 80 per cent of all deaths, the statement noted.

The link between smoking and COVID-19 make it essential for governments to pass comprehensive tobacco control laws that will protect the health of their people during this pandemic and beyond, the statement said.

Maria Cristina Profili, WHO representative to Jordan said: “We are grateful for this donation which builds on WHO existing efforts and a comprehensive programme to fight tobacco control in Jordan. The nicotine replacement therapy will help thousands of people in Jordan quit tobacco and lead a healthier life”.

The Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco, which will be soon available in Jordan, is designed to deliver tobacco cessation services that will help people overcome both physical and mental addictions to tobacco and allowing them and their families to live a smoke-free life, according to the statement. 

Smokers can seek additional information and help by calling the national Smoking Cessation Hotline (06-50-04-546), concluded the statement.

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