On May 31st, the World Health Organization (WHO) will celebrate the 25th anniversary of World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). Founded in 1987, World No Tobacco Day is meant to urge tobacco users worldwide to abstain from using tobacco products for 24 hours as a means to motivate people to quit.
However, knowing what we know now about nicotine withdrawal, no doubt 24 hours smoke-free will make for a bevy or rather irritable smokers nationwide.
The theme of this year’s day is tobacco industry interference, a hot topic given the legal fights and controversary surrounding graphic cigarette packaging, offloading health care costs back to the tobacco manufacturers, and court documents demonstrating manufacturers continued to market to children following agreement that cigarettes were harmful and addictive.
From the WHO website:
The [WNTD 2012] campaign will focus on the need to expose and counter the tobacco industry’s brazen and increasingly aggressive attempts to undermine the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) because of the serious danger they pose to public health.
Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death. The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are people exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless we act, it will kill up to 8 million people by 2030, of which more than 80% will live in low- and middle-income countries.
As more and more countries move to fully meet their obligations under the WHO FCTC, the tobacco industry’s efforts to undermine the treaty are becoming more and more energetic.
For example, in an attempt to halt the adoption of pictorial health warnings on packages of tobacco, the industry recently adopted the novel tactic of suing countries under bilateral investment treaties, claiming that the warnings impinge the companies’ attempts to use their legally-registered brands.
Meanwhile, the industry’s attempts to undermine the treaty continue on other fronts, particularly with regard to countries’ attempts to ban smoking in enclosed public places and to ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
World No Tobacco Day 2012 will educate policy-makers and the general public about the tobacco industry’s nefarious and harmful tactics.
On World No Tobacco Day 2012, and throughout the following year, WHO will urge countries to put the fight against tobacco industry interference at the heart of their efforts to control the global tobacco epidemic.