May 31st is World No Tobacco Day.
No Tobacco Day has been celebrated on May 31st each year since 1987. It is dedicated to educating people about the health dangers of tobacco - and every year there is a new motto:
For 2021, WHO (The World Health Organization) started a one-year worldwide campaign under the motto “Commit to Quit”. The aim is to support millions of people around the world in their efforts to quit smoking.
The campaign aims to
- Promote better access to services to help people quit smoking.
- Raise awareness concerning the tobacco industry’s manipulative tactics.
- Encourage people to quit smoking through so-called “Quit and Win” campaigns, in which the chance to win should motivate them.
WHO launched “World No Tobacco Day” in 1987 for the following reasons:
Smoking Causes Cancer
The largest preventable cause of cancer is smoking. Over 90 substances inhaled while smoking and passively smoking are (potentially) carcinogenic. In Germany, an estimated 19% of all new cancer cases are attributed to smoking. This manifests itself in lung cancer most often, accounting for 86% of smoking related cancer diagnoses. In cases of lung cancer, symptoms become apparent once the disease has advanced, in such instances chances of recovery are slim. Smoking also doubles the risk of developing other types of cancer, as research has shown.
Quitting Smoking has Health Benefits
Quitting smoking has immediate, but also long-term health effects. After just 20 minutes, the heart rate drops. After 12 hours, blood carbon monoxide levels are in normal range. Between 2 and 12 weeks, blood circulation and lung function improve, coughing fits and shortness of breath become less frequent and less severe. After 10 years, the death rate from lung cancer is only about half that of a smoker. After 5 to 15 years, the risk of stroke and heart disease is actually that of a non-smoker.
(More information is available e.g. from the German Cancer Aid (DKH) and WHO.)
Stop Smoking in 2021
The Corona pandemic is causing millions of tobacco consumers to attempt to quit smoking because they have a higher risk of a severe case of COVID-19 infection should they get it. But if stopping smoking is difficult in normal situations, it is an even greater challenge during the current pandemic in view of the additional socio-economic stress factors and restrictions. Increased implementation of demonstrably effective aid measures can help. Many countries in Europe (England, France and Switzerland for example) are currently implementing tobacco prevention projects much more resolutely than in Germany (where our agency is located).
The tobacco tax increase can also be a motivating factor towards quitting smoking. According to the abstract: Effects of Tobacco Taxation and Pricing on Smoking Behavior in High Risk Populations: A Knowledge Synthesis, on the National Institute of Health’s Website (NIH.gov), many studies found that raising cigarette prices through increased taxes is a highly effective measure for reducing smoking among youth, young adults, and persons of low socioeconomic status. So governments are getting into the mix and helping and hoping to get their citizens on the track to better health.
We wish everyone a healthy and hopefully smoke-free World No Tobacco Day!