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“COVID-19 pandemic – reason to quit tobacco”

On the 13th of September of the current year, a roundtable on the topic “The COVID-19 pandemic – the reason to quit tobacco” was held in Bishkek to mark the start of the academic year. The event was organized with the technical support of the WHO Regional Office for Europe and attended by representatives of the WHO and MoES KR, the Urban Student Polyclinic (USP) of Bishkek city, heads of HEEs and SEEs. The roundtable aims to urge educational establishments to support anti-tobacco measures by proclaiming their spaces tobacco-free zones.

Taking into account that tobacco consumption damages the physical and mental health of the nation’s youth and destroys the nation’s genetic pool, it is crucial to unite efforts and continue working on reducing the negative impact of tobacco smoking throughout the new academic year.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this problem gains even greater urgency since smokers are at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 forms.

During the roundtable, Alina Altymysheva, WHO National Professional Officer in the KR, talked about the benefits of quitting tobacco and presented a program and plan on the control of non-communicable diseases in the KR. She also discussed problems caused by tobacco smoking, aspects of preventing diseases associated with tobacco use and highlighted problems related to the legal restriction of tobacco use, international experience of limiting smoking and the impact of smoking on a person’s health: “The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded people of simple values that we usually take for granted. For instance, the opportunity to breathe freely. The World Health Organization has published a scientific report, stating that smokers develop more severe coronavirus forms, are at higher risk of death, and find it more difficult to recover after the disease. Therefore, quitting tobacco starts bringing health benefits immediately.”

Chief physician of the USP, Joroev M.N., addressing the heads of educational establishments underlined that all participants are united by worry over the fate and health of student youth.

“We welcome the decision of several heads of educational establishments to support anti-tobacco efforts and declare their educational establishment a tobacco-free zone! All our activities promote and form a healthy lifestyle among our students,” said the chief physician of the Urban Student Polyclinic.