World No Tobacco Day

graphic announcing World No Tobacco Day, 2018/May 31

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, an annual awareness day sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 1987 to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and encourage governments to adopt effective policies to reduce smoking and other tobacco use.

According to WHO, tobacco use kills more than 7 million people around the world each year, and that number is predicted to grow unless anti-tobacco actions are increased. In the United States, tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of death and disease. It causes many types of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke, lung disease, and other health problems.

 The focus of World No Tobacco Day 2018 is "Tobacco and heart disease." Tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), including coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease (a narrowing of arteries). WHO says knowledge among much of the public that tobacco is a leading cause of CVD is low. According to WHO:

  • CVD kills more people than any other cause of death worldwide.
  • Tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure contribute to about 12% of deaths from heart disease.
  • Tobacco use is the second leading cause of CVD, after high blood pressure.

WHO encourages governments worldwide to protect people from the harms of tobacco. Measures include:

  • The creation of smoke-free public places, workplaces, and public transportation
  • Help for people who choose to quit tobacco, such as toll-free quit lines
  • Implementation of plain packaging and/or prominent and graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging
  • Launching effective anti-tobacco mass media campaigns that educate the public about the harms of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure
  • Enforcement of comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship
  • Increased taxes on tobacco products to make them less affordable

American Cancer Society news stories are copyrighted material and are not intended to be used as press releases. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.