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WHO releases first-ever clinical treatment guideline for tobacco cessation in adults

WHO recommends varenicline, Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), bupropion, and cytisine as effective treatments for tobacco cessation.

In 2023, WHO initiated a prequalification procedure for medicinal products against disorders caused by tobacco use to improve global access to recommended tobacco cessation medications.

In April 2024, Kenvue’s nicotine gum and patch became the first WHO-prequalified NRT products.

WHO recommends behavioural interventions, including brief health worker counselling (30 seconds to 3 minutes) offered routinely in health-care settings, alongside more intensive behavioural support (individual, group, or phone counselling) for interested users. Additionally, digital interventions such as text messaging, smartphone apps, and internet programmes can be adjuncts or self-management tools.

WHO encourages healthcare providers, policy-makers, and stakeholders to adopt and implement this guideline to promote tobacco cessation and improve the health of millions of people in need worldwide.

According to the world health body, tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year, including an estimated 1.3 million non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke. Around 80% of the world’s 1.3 billion tobacco users live in low- and middle-income countries.

In 2020, 22.3% of the world’s population used tobacco: 36.7% of men and 7.8% of women.

WHO Member States adopted the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) to address the tobacco epidemic in 2003. Currently, 182 countries are parties to this treaty.

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