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WHO releases new statement

12 May 2020. The World Health Organization has released a statement regarding tobacco use and COVID-19, in a new press release.

The report highlighted the dangers of smoking, noting that over 8 million people die due to tobacco use annually. On April 29 a review of studies by public health experts, convened by WHO, found that smokers are more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19, when compared to non-smokers. Smoking impairs lung function, which makes it harder to fight off coronaviruses and other diseases.

WHO is constantly evaluating new research, including the link between tobacco use, nicotine use and COVID-19. WHO currently urges researchers, scientists and the media to be cautious about voicing unproven claims that tobacco or nicotine could reduce the risk of COVID-19. According to the report, there is currently insufficient evidence to confirm any link between tobacco or nicotine in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

However, nicotine replacement therapies, such as gum and patches, which help smokers to quit tobacco, are recommended. WHO recommends that smokers try to quit smoking using methods such as toll-free quit lines, text message programmes and nicotine replacement therapies. The report also highlighted the importance of ethically approved, high-quality, systematic research to contribute towards advancing individual and public health, as well as emphasizing that the promotion of unproven theories could have a negative impact.