Global Tobacco Control Updates
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), observed every May 31, focuses global attention on the devastating toll of the international tobacco epidemic and the urgent need for nations to implement proven measures to reduce tobacco use and save lives.
This year’s theme is "gender and tobacco with an emphasis on marketing to women."
The tobacco industry views women and girls as an opportunity for growth and aggressively markets products towards them that exploit ideas of independence, emancipation, sex appeal, slimness, glamour and beauty. Tobacco companies also design products to specifically appeal to women and girls, such as flavored cigarettes and fashionable packaging.
Partly as a result of aggressive marketing campaigns, tobacco use among women is rising while use among men is falling around the world. Without action to reduce smoking, deaths among women aged 20 years and over may rise from 1.5 million in 2004 to 2.5 million by 2030.
WNTD not only highlights the harmful effects of tobacco marketing towards women, but also focuses on the need for governments to pass and enforce effective tobacco control measures, including comprehensive advertising, promotion and sponsorship bans.
The WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the first global public health treaty, obligates its more than 168 member countries to undertake a comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
The treaty also calls on nations to implement additional scientifically proven measures to reduce tobacco use, including:
- Implement large, pictorial health warnings on tobacco packaging.
- Raise the price of tobacco products by significantly increasing tobacco taxes.
- Protect everyone from secondhand smoke with laws that require smoke-free workplaces and public places.
- Fund and implement effective tobacco prevention and cessation programs to prevent children from starting to smoke and help smokers quit.
Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death in the world. In fact, according to the WHO, tobacco use will kill one billion people worldwide this century unless nations act now to save lives.