Summer Starts with Action Toward a Healthier World

May 27, 2011

On Tuesday May 31, the World Health Organization's 'World No Tobacco Day' draws global attention to the growing international tobacco epidemic and the urgent need for nations to pass and implement effective policies to reduce tobacco use and save lives. This year's focus is on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the first global public health treaty.

The WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is a nation's most potent tool against tobacco use, which kills nearly six million people around the globe each year. It commits nations to implement scientifically proven measures to reduce tobacco use, including smoke-free policies that include all workplaces and public places; bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; large, graphic health warnings; and higher taxes on tobacco products. There are 173 parties to the treaty, covering approximately 87 percent of the world's population.

On World No Tobacco Day 2011, advocates around the world will bring attention to policies their countries must implement to reduce tobacco use.

Examples include:

  • China:  Movie stars and officials from the Ministry of Health will be at Peking University to promote smoke-free campuses. Advocates also plan to launch a public exhibition to support smoke-free hospitals. China is the largest producer and consumer of tobacco products in the world. 

  • India:  Rallies in major cities and a petition drive will raise public awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco use and help generate support for tobacco control policies in local districts. About a million Indians die from tobacco use each year.

  • Ukraine:  The annual 'Run under the Chestnut Trees' will promote policy initiatives including legislation to ban tobacco advertising, promotion, and event sponsorships, and the adoption of a Kyiv-city smoke-free law. An exhibition in the Parliament is planned to raise lawmakers' awareness of predatory tobacco industry marketing tactics.

  • Mexico: In Mexico City and across the country, tobacco control advocates will hold press conferences to promote strengthening the National Tobacco Control Law to make it more compliant with the FCTC, including a complete ad ban and larger graphic warning labels.

  • Brazil: Advocates will launch a campaign encouraging legislators to prohibit point-of-sale advertising and to ban cigarette flavorings that are attractive to children.

World No Tobacco Day reminds us that, without urgent action to implement the tobacco control treaty's policies, tobacco will kill one billion people this century.

And there is no question that these policies work.

The WHO has named effective tobacco control policies among the top 10 'best buys' that governments can implement to reduce disease and save lives.