By Asmau Ahmad
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says smoking tobacco is driving the tuberculosis epidemic, adding that in 2020, it was responsible for about 730,000 TB episodes.
According to the WHO, individuals who smoke are more at risk of experiencing problems with their lungs, even after successful completion of TB treatment.
The UN health agency disclosed this in a press statement it released to commemorate the 2022 World No Tobacco Day.
The day is celebrated annually on May 31.
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Tobacco: Poisoning our planet.” The theme, WHO said, aimed to shed light on the negative impacts of tobacco on human health, economies, societies, and the environment.
The global health agency stressed that individuals who smoke, along with people who are exposed to second-hand smoke, are at higher risk of developing TB.
It added that smoking tobacco slows down TB recovery, adding that it is also linked with poor treatment outcomes, including relapse of TB and death.
According to the WHO, tobacco usage is a destructive habit with an estimate of eight million people dying yearly.
“Efforts to curb the number of people who smoke and to support people with TB to quit smoking are therefore crucial to reduce TB-related suffering and deaths,” it said.
Recall that at the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on the Fight against Tuberculosis in 2018, Member States pledged to guarantee community-based health services that address the usage of tobacco as part of an all-inclusive package of TB services.
The WHOs End TB Strategy lays emphasis on action on TB and comorbidities, including tobacco smoking.
The WHO said, “Collaboration between national TB programmes and national tobacco control programmes is critical to scale up WHO-recommended TB and tobacco cessation interventions to meet this commitment.
“Integrating smoking cessation interventions within routine TB management is both feasible and effective in reducing smoking rates and for improving TB treatment outcomes among TB patients.
“A people-centered approach, inter-programme, and multisectoral collaboration is important to address the detrimental relationship between TB and tobacco, through multipronged strategies including community health campaigns to reduce the number of people who start smoking and the scale-up of efforts to include smoking cessation as part of TB care.
“As we mark World No Tobacco Day, let us consider how best we can unite to accelerate progress to reduce deaths and suffering due to TB and smoking and meet our global commitments to end TB and ensure a tobacco-free planet,” the global health agency said.