World No Tobacco Day
When is World No Tobacco Day?
World No Tobacco Day is a holiday dedicated to the cessation of smoking. It was founded by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1987, and has been held every May 31st since 1989. The goal of the holiday is to increase the awareness of the adverse health effects of tobacco products, which kill an estimated 6 million people worldwide every year.
The fact that tobacco products are dangerous to health is not breaking news to anyone in the United States. However, the troubling news is that people continue to smoke and chew tobacco, despite knowing the potential repercussions. Smoking can lead to numerous diseases, such as lung cancer, hypertension and heart disease, while chewing tobacco can also cause gum disease and oral cancer. People with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, may find that using tobacco exacerbates their symptoms.
Another danger is second-hand smoke. WHO estimates a worldwide death toll of 600,000 from second-hand smoke exposure every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that this exposure kills about 50,000 non-smokers in the United States annually. Not only does World No Tobacco Day promote smoking cessation for your own health, but it is also intended to be for the better good of everyone around you.
Sadly, only a fraction of the countries in the world have no-smoking laws set in place to protect communities. During the late 1990s, individual states in the U.S. embarked on no-smoking laws to protect non-smokers in public places. As of 2011, only 25 states as well as the Washington, D.C., have some form of indoor smoking bans in public places. Still, not all laws are equal. Indoor smoking bans vary greatly by state. For example, some states enforce bans on smoking in restaurants and bars, while others only prohibit tobacco use in restaurants.
Tobacco products were once commonplace. In fact, they were even viewed as status symbols. By the 1980s, however, scientists concluded that tobacco was responsible for a wide range of chronic illnesses. What was perhaps even more alarming was the number of families who smoked in houses with children. During the first half of the century, many adults were unaware of the dangers they imposed on their children through these everyday items.
In 1987, WHO called for the first World No Smoking Day. It was slated to be held on the 40th anniversary of WHO: April 7, 1988. Due to the success of the holiday, the organization decided to fix the holiday permanently on the calendar. A resolution would also call for the holiday to recognize all tobacco products – not just cigarettes. Since 1989, World No Tobacco has been celebrated every year on May 31st.
Celebrations and Ceremonies
World No Tobacco Day is a multi-nation holiday. Government offices and schools remain open, although many of these institutions celebrate the holiday in an effort to increase awareness and support. During this day, healthcare professionals may also hold lectures and educational events about the dangers of tobacco. Individuals who may have lost a loved one to tobacco use also hold ceremonies to celebrate the lives lost, while raising focus and attention to the causes of death. Tobacco-related diseases are preventable, which makes such situations even more heartbreaking.
Themes and Symbols
WHO has a different theme for World No Tobacco Day every year. The theme for 2013 is a ban on tobacco products through advertising and promotion. While related ads are no longer commonplace in the United States (in fact, graphic non-smoking ads have taken their place), such promotions are still widespread in other countries. WHO hopes that 2013’s theme will help decrease the amount of tobacco advertising. Statistics have proven that ads have affected tobacco use significantly – especially among youth.
Past World No Tobacco Day themes have included: tobacco-free workplaces, smoke-free inside, tobacco-free youth and the dangers of second-hand smoke. There are numerous symbols for this holiday. While most symbols feature anti-smoking signs, others might be more graphic to help show the repercussions tobacco products impose.
By: Kristeen Cherney