The program will unfold over the course of five years, and will eventually be launched in 63 selected cities and 63 villages.
In line with article 8 of the WHO’s Convention on Tobacco Control to protect people from tobacco use, Behzad Valizadeh, head of the National Secretariat of Tobacco Control, defined a tobacco-free city as one in which its residents are shielded from secondhand smoke. This would be achieved by setting in place the appropriate regulations pertaining to the sale, supply, and use of tobacco, and also offer incentives to help smokers quit.
The “tobacco-free” program launched in Iran, will unfold over the course of five years, and after being piloted in Qom city, it will eventually be spread across 63 selected cities and 63 villages. Valizadeh said that the program focuses on both demand and supply reduction strategies, and is therefore expected to gradually reduce smoking rates.
“The first phase of this program, which will continue for one year from the beginning of the project, by mobilizing information and joint actions of relevant agencies and organizations, including non-governmental organizations, efforts will be made to meet the requirements defined in this program in the selected village and introduced by the university,” he stated.
“He went on to note that the medical universities should monitor the implementation in the selected rural town, and evaluate the results,” explained an article on the Tehran Times.
Jordan receives WHO funding to combat smoking
Meanwhile, another Middle Eastern country, Jordan, will be the first country in the world to benefit from a new WHO initiative aimed at helping smokers quit. More than 8 out of 10 Jordanian men are believed to either smoke or use other nicotine products and men who smoke daily are estimated to consume an average of 23 cigarettes per day. These figures were revealed by a 2019 national survey (STEPS) conducted by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the WHO.
Enter the WHO, and a new Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco launched last Summer. Besides giving people free access to NRTs, the programme also gives smokers a digital health worker, Florence, based on artificial intelligence. This digital assistant aims to educate by dispelling myths around COVID-19 and tobacco,whilst helping people develop a personalised plan to quit tobacco. This initiative will complement the currently available local free smoking cessation services through Ministry of Health clinics and other facilities.