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World No Tobacco Day, 31 May, 2017

Tobacco kills almost 7 million people every year, 6 million because of direct tobacco use, and around 890 000 nonsmokers exposed to second hand smoke. Today, according to the World Health organization more than a billion people worldwide smoke, among them 80% are from low- and middle-income countries. It is predicted that the number of deaths will be 8 millions till 2030 unless the activities in tobacco control will be intensified.

Therefore, World Health Organization (WHO) decided that 31 May will be the World No Tobacco Day. That day worldwide, various health and other risks due to tobacco use are highlighted, advocating for strengthening effective measures to prevent and reduce tobacco consumption.

The theme of World No Tobacco Day 2017 was: “Tobacco – a threat to development”, and it was marked with the slogan “Say NO to tobacco – protect health, reduce poverty and promote development”.

The campaign indicated that tobacco use is a threat to any person, regardless of gender, age, race, culture or education. Tobacco use is responsible for suffering, illness and death in smokers, it impoverishes families and national economies, destroys environment and sustainable development.

Tobacco use has a negative effect on national economy by increasing the direct health care cost and indirect cost due to loss in productivity, disability and premature deaths. It is estimated that the total health care cost worldwide is more than US& 1 trillion, four times more than governmental revenues that tobacco industry pays through taxes and excises.

Tobacco use worsens inequality in health, and exacerbates poverty, as the poorest people spend less money to meet their basic needs, such as food, education, housing and health care. It has the most pronounced consequences on vulnerable groups – women and children, who are targeted by the tobacco companies as new tobacco consumers. Moreover, during their work on tobacco growing they are exposed to different workplace hazards. Almost 3/4 agricultural workers in tobacco growing (70%) and around 1,300,000 children aged 14 and less are exploited through the child work in 12 major tobacco growing countries.

Tobacco destroys environment in many ways. Tobacco growing involves great amount of pesticides and fertilizers, which are long-term soil contaminates. Tobacco waste contains over 7000 chemicals, including carcinogens, and tobacco smoke emission is a great source of carcinogens, toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. The same effect has the process of tobacco drying using fossil fuels. Tobacco farming is also a contributor to deforestation, as there is a need for more agricultural soil, as well as for production of cigarette papers and cartons. One tree is lost for production of 300 cigarettes and 1.5 cartons for tobacco packages. Cigarette butts account for 30% – 40% of a total collected waste.

2017 campaign should:

  • demonstrate tobacco threat in all countries worldwide for sustainable development, for health and economic wellbeing of the citizens;
  • suggest measures that countries and public should perform to promote health and development confronting the world tobacco crisis;
  • support countries and civil society to combat the interference of tobacco industry in political processes, which will enhance national policy in tobacco control;
  • encourage broader participations of public, associations, local communities and governments in preparing and implementing strategies and plan in tobacco control; and
  • encourage individuals to contribute themselves in creating the sustainable tobacco free world, either by never taking up any tobacco product or by quitting using it.