May 31 is World No Tobacco Day

By Erica Hohenadel

Tobacco use kills more than 7 million people every year and costs households and governments more than US$ 1.4 trillion through healthcare expenditure and lost productivity.

Given the significant impact on health and the global economy, the World Health Organization and partners deem May 31 each year as World No Tobacco Day. The designation highlights the health and additional risks associated with tobacco use, and advocates for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

This year’s theme is “Tobacco – a threat to development” as the tobacco industry threatens the sustainable development of all countries, including the health and economic well-being of their citizens.

Derek Yach, a senior consultant for Vitality who headed the WHO tobacco control program to reduce smoking worldwide‚ urges smokers to switch from cigarettes to vaping. He noted in a recent article, “The evidence is rather clear that e-cigs reduce the risks of tobacco-related death and disease substantially compared to combustible cigarettes. And with every few month’s passing‚ we see more evidence of this. The key issue to keep firmly in mind is the death and illness associated with smoking. Smokers smoke for the nicotine but die from the tar.”

Employers can also do their part by making it harder for employees to smoke during the work day and the most significant impact is realized when campus-wide smoking bans are implements. This strategy has been proven to make an impact when combined with offering cessation programs.

Only when governments and businesses step up efforts to reduce tobacco production and consumption will we come closer to the goal of a sustainable, tobacco-free world. You can do your part by committing to never use tobacco products. And those who do should quit the habit, or seek help in doing so, which will in turn protect their health as well as people exposed to second-hand smoke, including children, family members and friends.

The money not spent on tobacco can be used for other essential uses, including the purchase of healthy food, healthcare and education.


2017 World No Tobacco Day Goals:

  • Highlight the links between the use of tobacco products, tobacco control and sustainable development.
  • Encourage countries to include tobacco control in their national responses to 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
  • Support Member States and civil society to combat tobacco industry interference in political processes, in turn leading to stronger national tobacco control action.
  • Encourage broader public and partner participation in national, regional and global efforts to develop and implement development strategies and plans and achieve goals that prioritize action on tobacco control.
  • Demonstrate how individuals can contribute to making a sustainable, tobacco-free world, either by committing to never taking up tobacco products, or by quitting the habit.

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