From the Journals

WHO: Smoking cessation reduces risk of type 2 diabetes up to 40%



Tobacco users who quit smoking reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 30% to 40%, and quitting even after one has developed type 2 diabetes is important in preventing a worsening of the disease’s many serious comorbidities, according to a new policy brief jointly issued by the World Health Organization, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), and the University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia.

With type 2 diabetes representing one of the most prevalent chronic diseases worldwide and the ninth cause of death globally, the potential to reduce the risk and worsening of the disease by quitting smoking adds to the urgency of smoking cessation as a public health interest.


  • The policy brief summarizes the evidence on the health impacts of type 2 diabetes, tobacco smoking, and the pathophysiology of tobacco use and its role in the development of type 2 diabetes.
  • The brief also describes the latest data on newer products that target smokers or potential smokers, including smokeless tobacco, new nicotine and tobacco products, and their relationship with type 2 diabetes. For instance, evidence suggests that even with smokeless tobacco, heavy use or high consumption increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as the products often contain nicotine, known to contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and related health conditions.
  • Evidence on the effectiveness of tobacco control interventions among those with type 2 diabetes is also summarized, including discussion of a systematic review of six studies suggesting that interventions focusing on education and the involvement of health care professionals and pharmacists can be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.


  • Smoking exacerbates the known serious complications of diabetic neuropathy and foot ulcers with type 2 diabetes, while further impeding wound healing.
  • Smoking also causes damage to retinal blood vessels already at risk with type 2 diabetes, increasing the risk of diabetic retinopathy and vision loss.
  • Quitting tobacco use can help prevent those and other major health complications already linked to diabetes, including kidney failure and cardiovascular events.
  • Studies show that key misconceptions among smokers with type 2 diabetes that can prevent cessation include concerns about post-cessation weight gain, the influence of peers who smoke, and the psychological aspect of addiction.
  • Clinicians are urged to provide advice on how to stop smoking to all tobacco users during the course of a routine consultation or interaction, which can be accomplished in only a few minutes.


“Health professionals play a vital role in motivating and guiding individuals with type 2 diabetes in their journey to quit tobacco,” Ruediger Krech, MD, director of the Department of Health Promotion at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, said in a press statement on the policy brief.

“Simultaneously, governments must take the crucial step of ensuring all indoor public places, workplaces, and public transport are completely smoke-free. These interventions are essential safeguards against the onset and progression of this and many other chronic diseases,” he emphasized.


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