Below is a snippet of an article that was written for the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) as part of its campaign for World No Tobacco Day 2021. The full article is available on UICC's website.
It sometimes feels like a whole new era began in early 2020 when COVID-19 started spreading. Our old ways of doing things – business, travel, even social interaction – suddenly changed as the world struggled to contain a novel coronavirus.
But as talk of “flattening the curve” shifted to “the new normal”, it became clear that despite the unprecedented nature of this pandemic, the same public health challenges remain.
Cancer and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are still the world’s leading causes of death and disability, only now they’re also making people more vulnerable to COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting marginalised communities the hardest just as NCDs do, underscoring the same inequities. And eight million people died last year due to tobacco use, while the tobacco industry encourages people to keep smoking despite a pandemic of respiratory illness.
As we work to overcome this new challenge, we can’t forget our existing public health toolkit. We need to double down on prevention, making use of legal and regulatory measures we already know are effective. That includes the landmark treaty that has been saving lives for more than 15 years: the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
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