World No Tobacco Day

Smoking kills around 6 million people every year worldwide, yet despite this, tobacco use remains at epidemic proportions.


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Tobacco smoke is extremely harmful to your health. When cigarettes burn, they generate over 7,000 different chemicals, many of which are poisonous and at least 69 of which can cause cancer.

Smokers are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer, leukaemia, kidney and pancreatic cancer, mouth and throat cancer and cervical cancer in women. Smoking also increases your risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts, Type 2 diabetes, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, blood clots and stroke.

What is World No Tobacco Day?

World No Tobacco Day is celebrated around the world every year on 31 May. Created by the member states of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the day is used to emphasise the dangers of tobacco, focus on the business practices of tobacco companies and announce what WHO is achieving in the fight against tobacco use.

It also encourages smokers to participate by abstaining from smoking for 24 hours and it provides information and advice on what people around the world can do to claim their right to a healthy life without tobacco.

What’s happening in 2021?

The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2020 is “Tobacco – a threat to development”. This year’s campaign will highlight the threats the tobacco industry poses to the sustainable development of all countries.

Tobacco use costs developing countries enormously through increased healthcare costs and reduced productivity. It also exacerbates poverty, as the poorest people spend more on tobacco and less on essentials such as food, education and health care. Most premature deaths from tobacco occur in low or middle-income countries, which are facing increasing challenges in achieving their developmental goals.

As well as highlighting the problems, the 2020 campaign will also propose measures that governments and the general public can take to promote health and development by confronting the global tobacco crisis.

How can you get involved?

  • Abstain from smoking for 24 hours if you are a smoker.
  • Take the Pledge to Quit via Facebook at
  • Write letters to government officials and the local media calling for action against tobacco companies.
  • Organise a march or rally to protest against the global tobacco crisis.
  • Spread the anti-tobacco message via Facebook, Twitter and your other social media platforms.

Previous May event: World MS Day | Back to Health Event Hub

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