CHESTPress ReleasesPolicy changes urgently needed to support tobacco cessation, warn respiratory groups

Policy changes urgently needed to support tobacco cessation, warn respiratory groups

On World No Tobacco Day (31 May, 2021) the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), of which the American College of Chest Physicians® (CHEST) is a founding member, calls on governments and policymakers to make greater political and financial commitments to support and promote tobacco cessation services.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco use kills more than eight million people each year. Tobacco use also remains the main and most preventable cause of lung disease among both adults and children, and it is well understood1 that the “big five” respiratory diseases (asthma, COPD, lung cancer, tuberculosis, pneumonia) and other acute lower respiratory tract infections are caused or worsened by tobacco product use and secondhand smoke exposure.

Despite this, smoking cessation treatment remains poorly implemented in health care around the world; according to the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic2, only 23 countries worldwide offer cessation services that WHO describes as meeting best-practice levels.

Tobacco and nicotine addiction is not a lifestyle choice, but a chronic relapsing disorder that should be treated accordingly. When nicotine, the psychoactive component of tobacco, is inhaled, it reaches the brain rapidly and is highly addictive3. Most smokers want to quit, but evidence has shown4 that only 3–5% of people who attempt to quit without professional medical support succeed after six months, highlighting the need for professional assistance when quitting tobacco.

In support of WHO’s World No Tobacco Day 2021 year-long global campaign to help 100 million people quit tobacco, FIRS urges policymakers and healthcare regulators to act urgently to:

  • Make greater political and financial commitments to support tobacco and nicotine product cessation services that provide evidence-based effective treatments, including behavioral support or motivational interviewing in combination with pharmacotherapy.
  • Optimize health systems5 by providing system-level tobacco cessation interventions, from primary care to secondary care, community programs and internet support.
  • Support the implementation and enforcement of comprehensive tobacco control policies, such as those outlined in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control6, to prevent tobacco product use and protect public health.

The unprecedented response to the COVID-19 crisis demonstrates more than ever the importance and effectiveness of making meaningful policy changes to tackle health challenges. FIRS urges policymakers to act now and help people to quit tobacco for good, protect public health and save lives and reduce the burden on health care systems that is caused by tobacco product use.

About the American College of Chest Physicians

The American College of Chest Physicians® (CHEST) is the global leader in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of chest diseases. Its mission is to champion advanced clinical practice, education communication and research in chest medicine. It serves as an essential connection to clinical knowledge and resources for its 19,000+ members from around the world who provide patient care in pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. For information about the American College of Chest Physicians, and its flagship journal CHEST®, visit

About the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS)

The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) is an organisation comprised of the world's leading international respiratory societies working together to improve lung health globally: American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), American Thoracic Society (ATS), Asian Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR), Asociación Latino Americana De Tórax (ALAT), European Respiratory Society (ERS), International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (The Union), Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS), Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), and the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD).

The goal of FIRS is to unify and enhance efforts to improve lung health through the combined work of its more than 100,000 members globally.

For more information about FIRS, please contact Lisa Roscoe: