Today, 31st May, is World No Tobacco Day, an officially recognised day by the World Health Organization (WHO). Tobacco is one of the world’s biggest public health risks, and the leading preventable cause of cancer. To put this in perspective it is important to realise that there are over one billion smokers in the world, and six million deaths are directly related to tobacco every year, as well as 1.3 million new cases of lung cancer. Tobacco is responsible for one death every six seconds.
This year, the WHO is calling for countries to ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship to help reduce the number of tobacco users. Bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship are one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco consumption, with countries that have already introduced bans showing an average of 7% reduction in tobacco consumption.
Young people: Targets of the Tobacco industry
Research shows about one third of youth experimentation with tobacco occurs as a result of exposure to tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Worldwide, 78% of young people aged 13-15 years report regular exposure to some form of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
“Tobacco use ranks right at the very top of the list of universal threats to health yet is entirely preventable,” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “Governments must make it their top priority to stop the tobacco industry’s shameless manipulation of young people and women, in particular, to recruit the next generation of nicotine addicts.”
Find out more by downloading the WHO Brochure "Banning Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, what you need to know".
The WHO FCTC, as the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO, has demonstrated the world’s commitment to decisive action to reduce tobacco use, the leading preventable cause of death. The Treaty was adopted in 2003 and now has 176 Parties, covering 88% of the world’s population.
However, a lot remains to be done. WHO’s report on the global tobacco epidemic 2011 shows that only 19 countries (representing just 6% of the world’s population) have reached the highest level of achievement in banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. More than one third of countries have minimal or no restrictions at all.
In November 2011, Australia became the first country to introduce plain packaging legislation, which aims to make tobacco products less attractive and display health warning more prominently. Legislation in Australia has forced tobacco companies to package tobacco products in a standard, drab dark brown color, without any branding (logos, colours or promotional text). The only images and text that appear on the packaging are health warnings, composed of graphic images and explanatory messages and information.
A few days ago, Ireland became the second country to introduce such legislation. Health Minister James Reilly brought the matter before the Irish cabinet on Tuesday and obtained the go-ahead by his cabinet colleagues for the legislation to be drafted. It is hoped to come into force early next year.
On May 29-30 the European Week against Cancer conference hosted by the Irish Cancer Society took place in Dublin. Mr Jonathan Liberman from the McCabe Center for Law, in Melbourne, who was part of the Australian Government’s advisory group on plain packaging, was among the speakers invited at the conference, where he talked about the failed attempts of the Tobacco industry to stop the introduction of the plain packaging last December. Irish Minister of Health James Reilly was also among the speakers and gave a moving speech in which he reiterated his intention to take on the Tobacco Industry.
The French League Against Cancer has been working closely with the French Minister of Health Marisol Touraine to encourage people to sign the petition "Tueurs-Payeurs" (Killers should pay") which aims to create a tax on profits made by the tobacco industry to take care of all the negative consequences this poison creates in Europe and in developing countries. With the objective of gathering 100,000 signatures by today, this petition will be sent to François Hollande, the French President, as well as to Margaret Chan, WHO Director General and other global health decision-makers and high-level influential leaders.
The French Minister of Health is also hosting a press conference at 9am for the World No Tobacco Day.
The Campaign to Control Cancer have written some interesting posts on their Blog to create a discussion around the impacts of tobacco marketing, promotion and sales on university campuses. They will also be engaging in the discussions through their social media platforms. If you would like to take part in the discussion, please follow @control_cancer.
Tell us what you are doing on World No Tobacco Day and we will help spread your activities and messages.
For more information on World No Tobacco Day, please visit the WHO official page.