The World Health Organization decided to create World No Tobacco Day to draw the world’s attention to the effects of tobacco on health, the economy, and the environment. It is observed every year on the 31st of May.
Tobacco smoking is one of the leading risks for early death. Around 6 trillion cigarettes are manufactured annually and sold to the public for consumption. The purpose of World No Tobacco Day was to dissuade smokers from using tobacco or nicotine products for 24 hours.
In 1988, the World Health Assembly declared the 31st of May as World No Tobacco Day.
In 2008, the World Health Organization banned tobacco advertisement, sponsorship, or promotion.
Themes of World No Tobacco Day
Each year, the World Health Organization gathers and discusses a particular theme related to tobacco consumption. This aims to create a unified message to be delivered to the world. The WHO emphasises the idea of “truth” and makes it its mission to provide the facts to the world’s population.
- 2017- “Tobacco-a threat to development.”
- 2018 – “Tobacco breaks hearts.”
- 2019 – “Make Every Day World No Tobacco Day.”
- 2020 – “Tobacco Exposed: The secret’s out.”
- 2021 – “Commit to quit.”
- This year’s theme is “Tobacco: Threat to our environment.”
The campaign launched by the World Health Organization aims to spread awareness about the dangers of tobacco smoking. It affects the health of smokers and secondhand users, but it also affects the environment. Therefore, this initiative is dedicated to reducing the consequences of today’s and future generations of tobacco consumption.
- 600,000,000 trees are chopped down to make cigarettes.
- 83,000,000 tonnes of CO2 Emissions are released into the air raising global temperatures.
- 22,000,000,000 Litres of water are used to make cigarettes.
Tobacco growing, tobacco product manufacturing, and delivery severely impact the environment.
According to Truth Initiative, 766,571 metric tons of cigarette butts make their way into the environment every year. Cigarette butts pollute the land, rivers, beaches, and oceans. The chemicals from only one cigarette butt released enough toxins to kill 50 per cent of the fish exposed in lakes, rivers, and oceans.
Research has found that tobacco agriculture contributes to deforestation. It happens when cigarette companies clear the land for tobacco plantations. It also contributes to soil degradation.
World No Tobacco Day helps the population learn about the economic impact of cigarettes. Due to its addictive effects, people keep buying more and more cigarettes with money that could be used for other essential matters such as; education, food, or health care.
The health consequences of tobacco are well known and well-documented. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 8 million people will die from tobacco use by 2030, accounting for 10 % of annual deaths worldwide. Tobacco use or exposure has a negative effect on health.
5 harms caused by tobacco smoking
- Lung cancer is the most common cause of death due to smoking. It is responsible for approximately 85% of all lung cancer cases. It does not only affect the smokers but also people who are exposed to the smoke. Non-smokers exposed can increase the risk of developing lung cancer by approximately 20% to 30%.
- Smoking reduces the ability to smell and taste. It affects the taste receptors, people lose their taste buds, and overall, they lose appetite, finding the food bland.
- Female smokers have more difficulties getting pregnant. They also are at higher risk of miscarriage and premature labour. If luckily, the pregnancy is carried to term, the baby may be born with a cleft lip and cleft palate.
- Smoking affects not only the internal system of a person but also the external features of the body. Tobacco smoke sticks to the clothes and hair. You can immediately tell if someone has just smoked or been with someone who smokes. Also, teeth start to become yellow, and smoking can increase the risk of infections or inflammations that lead to tooth and bone loss. Handing cigarettes stains the fingers and fingernails of smokers.
- Smokers have a higher rate of bronchitis. Exposed non-smokers can also be affected, especially children. Smoking damages the airway and contributes to persistent coughs, also known as the “smoker’s cough”.
Cigarettes are also a significant cause of accidental fires and resulting deaths. Cigarettes caused around 7 % of fires in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland in 2013 – 2014.
Tobacco companies need to be held accountable for their impact on the environment and come up with measures to reduce it. With the help of World No Tobacco Day, people are encouraged to quit smoking for their health and the planet. It is also the responsibility of the government and policymakers to engage tobacco farmers in switching methods to reduce environmental impacts. One of the many ways to observe this day is to educate the youth about the threats of tobacco. “The best way to quit smoking is to never start.”
Ingrid Roussel, YUVA Intern