World No Tobacco Day

graphic showing hand holding a lit cigarette up to a balloon with map of the world on it/text says "Tobacco Threatens Us All: Say No to Tobacco/Protect Health, Reduce Poverty and Promote Development/31 May: World No Tobacco Day/#NoTobacco"

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 more than 7 million people around the world each year, and that number is predicted to grow unless anti-tobacco actions are increased. 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.

The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2017 is "Tobacco – a threat to development." According to WHO:

  • By controlling the tobacco market, governments can protect their citizens from the health consequences of tobacco use and reduce its toll on their economies.
  • Tobacco use worsens health inequalities and exacerbates poverty, as the poorest people spend less on essentials such as food, education and health care.
  • Comprehensive tobacco control can lessen the environmental harms of tobacco growing, manufacturing, trade and consumption. Tobacco growing requires large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers, which can be toxic and pollute water supplies.
  • Governments can increase taxes on tobacco products as a way to reduce demand for tobacco, and offer an important revenue stream to finance development activities.
  • Tobacco control can break the cycle of poverty, contribute to ending hunger, promote sustainable agriculture and economic growth, and combat climate change.

Individual people can help too, by committing to never using tobacco products. Those who already use tobacco can 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, other family members, and friends. Money not spent on tobacco can be, in turn, used for other essential uses, including the purchase of healthy food, health care, and education.

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