World No Tobacco Day

poster for World No Tobacco Day that says "Get ready for plain packaging: Smoking Harms Unborn Babies"

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, an annual awareness day sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 1987 to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and encourage governments to adopt effective policies to reduce smoking and other tobacco use.

According to WHO, tobacco use kills nearly 6 million people around the world each year. In the United States, tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of death and disease. It causes many types of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke, lung disease, and other health problems. This year's World No Tobacco Day theme calls on countries worldwide to get ready for plain packaging of tobacco products.

Plain packaging refers to laws or other measures that limit or ban the use of logos, colors, brand images, or promotional information on tobacco products. Brand names and product names are displayed in a standard color and font style.

According to WHO, plain packaging makes tobacco products less attractive to consumers and limits use of the packaging as a form of advertising. It also limits misleading labeling and increases the effectiveness of health warnings.

Australia, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and France have all passed laws to implement plain packaging, and several other countries are considering adopting plain packaging laws. WHO is encouraging all its member countries to adopt such laws.

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