The Fact Maker

The pandemic that kills 8 million every year – Finnish NGO raises awareness on dangers of smoking

Smoking kills more than eight million a year1 and the number keeps growing. Regardless of its worldwide recognized dangers, smoking is a pandemic less talked about and with fatality rate still on the rise. This is why Finland’s Cancer Society of Finland wants to raise awareness on its dangers. The campaign imagery is triggered by the common, yet disturbing pictures seen online of smokers wearing masks. The message: quitting is now more crucial than ever.


Smoking is a pandemic that has lasted for decades with no end in sight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) smoking increases the risk of a severe illness from COVID-19.2

“During the first wave of the pandemic we paid attention to an alarming trend of people smoking through holes they have made on their facial masks. Since then, things have progressed and tutorials on how to do it can be found all over the internet. This goes to show that more communication around the dangers of smoking is needed – especially during times like these. As a public health organization, we see it as our responsibility to stress the need for people to keep safe. Our campaign sends out a clear message: wear a mask, but also decrease your risks by not smoking”, says Juha Heino, Health from the Cancer Society of Finland.

Smoking is a major cause of cancer, as well as many others, such as cardiovascular and lung diseases. Recently, the linkages between smoking and corona disease have raised concern.

“Past year has shown us how vulnerable the global ecology and we humans are as species. Throughout the pandemic there has been a significant increase in people’s interest towards overall wellness and we see that quitting smoking is a part of that. Smoking is known to increase the risk of severe covid disease. We see that there is no better time than now to raise discussion and help people to make the best decision to quit”, continues Heino.