The Pan American Health Organisation recently launched Florencia, the Spanish version of an artificial intelligence tool developed by the World Health Organisation to help people quit smoking. The launch is part of WHO’s year-long World No Tobacco Day campaign: “Commit to quitting tobacco.”

Florencia, which is accessible through the Internet, represents a milestone in tobacco control efforts in the Americas. Florencia uses artificial intelligence to dispel myths around Covid-19 and smoking and helps individuals develop personalised plans to quit tobacco. Florencia provides guidance to consumers on the most effective techniques and tools to stop using tobacco products.

Florencia can engage in real-time conversations with users by voice or texting, providing scientifically validated information on the dangers associated with smoking and mechanisms available to combat the tobacco epidemic.

Florencia is also able to provide users with information about the various digital cessation services recommended by WHO, such as free telephone quit lines, applications that can be downloaded to users’ personal cell phones or tools associated with additional cessation projects.

In the “Commit to quitting tobacco” campaign, PAHO/WHO is highlighting the importance of creating environments that encourage people to quit smoking by promoting public policies that encourage cessation of tobacco use, establish smoke-free environments, and increase tobacco taxes.

Increasing access to services that promote smoking cessation is also central to this effort. The 2021 commemoration of World No Tobacco Day includes the development of a series of initiatives aimed at deepening efforts to create more and better conditions to quit smoking, empowering smokers to try to quit and avoid the serious health consequences of using tobacco products.

8m die each year

To quit smoking, PAHO/WHO recommendations include four steps: set a specific quit day as soon as possible; tell friends, family, and work colleagues; anticipate possible obstacles that may arise; and eliminate any tobacco products from the immediate environment.

Within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, elevated blood pressure and heart rate are reduced. Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in the bloodstream returns to normal. At two to 12 weeks, circulation and lung function improve. At one to nine months, cough and dyspnoea are reduced.

Tobacco kills more than eight million people each year worldwide, and of these, about one million are from the Americas. 

Florencia was created with technology developed by the San Francisco and New Zealand-based Digital People company Soul Machines, with support from Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud.

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