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Message from Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of WHO, for World No-Tobacco Day 1999

"Leave the Pack behind!"

Von Gro Harlem Brundtland / Weltgesundheitsorganisation WHO

Giving up smoking is not easy. We know that nicotine is powerfully addictive, and all of us know people who have tried to give up, smoking, only to find themselves drawn back to it a few months later. This is a challenge for us all, and we have to rise to it because we know that getting more smokers to quit is the key to reducing the projected tobacco-related death toll over the next two decades. A recent survey in a large developing country revealed that two-thirds of smokers mistakenly believe that smoking does little or no harm; few are interested in quitting, and fewer still have successfully quit. At present, most smokers who do successfully give up do so without formal help. But we need to greatly increase rates of successful quitting. Today we know that successful and cost-effective treatments exist. Nicotine replacement medicines such as nicotine gum, patches, nasal spray and inhalers as well as non-nicotine medicines such as bupropion can double people's chances of succeeding. These need to be more widely available, but the cost also needs to be reduced to bring them within the reach of smokers everywhere. The good news is that there are real health gains to be made from stopping at any age. Those who give up in their early 30s enjoy a life expectancy similar to people who never smoked. I therefore invite all smokers to take a giant step towards better health and "leave the pack behind."



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