Ukraine launches professional smoking cessation service

WHO/Ukraine

A press conference officially launches Ukraine’s new smoking cessation service.

On 20 June 2017, WHO and partners presented a professional smoking cessation service to support Ukrainians suffering from tobacco dependence.

The service was developed within the framework of “Noncommunicable Diseases Prevention and Health Promotion in Ukraine”, a joint project of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health and WHO that is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

The service consists of a toll-free quitline staffed with professional, client-oriented consultants. It also features a website with readily available information on smoking cessation, and options to make inquiries via live chat and email.

“Similar services work in many countries around the world and have already proven to be effective,” explained Dr Dongbo Fu, an expert on smoking cessation with the WHO Tobacco Free Initiative. “A national toll-free quitline is one of the 3 wide-reaching tobacco cessation approaches recommended by WHO. An adequately funded and well-functioning quitline has the potential to reach 6% of all tobacco users each year, since it is accessible to the entire population of the country. … This is important in relation to providing professional assistance in smoking cessation to all those in need.”

According to the results of the Ukrainian survey of smokers conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in September and October 2016, 77% of Ukrainian smokers believe that the availability of a smoking cessation service is essential.

Seventy per cent of Ukrainian smokers have already made at least one serious attempt to quit smoking, and approximately the same percentage want to quit smoking. Unfortunately, however, the percentage of those who succeed is low: according to the 2010 Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 40.5% of smokers tried to quit smoking, but only 6.7% were able to do so.

Currently, the leading Ukrainian anti-tobacco nongovernmental organization Advocacy Center Life manages Ukraine’s smoking cessation service. The ongoing maintenance of the service is on the Ministry of Health’s agenda.

Dr Oleg Dudin, Chief Specialist of the Public Health Department of the Ministry of Health, spoke to the importance of the service. “A small percentage of those who succeed in smoking cessation indicates the importance of the availability of professional assistance. Our goal is to create more opportunities for those smokers who want to get rid of tobacco dependence. Therefore, the Ministry of Health supported the development of a smoking cessation service, and will promote its work and further development.”

“It’s not just a service,” Dr Dudin emphasized. “This is a tool that will prevent terrible tobacco-related diseases and deaths.”