What can I say about smoking, except that for most of us smoking begins as an experiment? And then before we know, it has become a habit, eventually, for some, it translates into addiction. It’s not active smokers who face the repercussions, passive smokers too develop their own set of problems. I saw this with my mother, who had three heart attacks as my father was a heavy smoker.
May 31 is the day when the globe observes World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). The day was started in 1987 by the member states of the World Health Organization (WHO).
What happens on World No Tobacco Day
- People are encouraged to 24-hour abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption worldwide.
- The day draws attention to the widespread use of tobacco and negative health effects, which currently lead to nearly 6 million deaths annually, including 600,000 of which are the result of non-smokers.
- Ashtrays with fresh flowers are a symbol of World No Tobacco Day.
- Each year has a theme. For 2015, WNTD is highlighting health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption, including ending the illicit trade of tobacco products.
- Since 1988 the WHO has been awarding organizations or individuals who have made exceptional contributions to reducing tobacco consumption. World No Tobacco Day Awards have been given to individuals from Africa, Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, South-East Asia, and Western Pacific, and Director-General Special Awards and Recognition Certificates are given to individuals from any region.
- WHO encourages groups to organize events such as letter-writing campaigns to government officials and local newspapers, marches, public debates, local and national publicity campaigns, anti-tobacco activist meetings, educational programming, and public art.
- On May 31, 2008, a section of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act came into effect, banning tobacco ‘power walls’ and displays at stores; All hospitals and government offices in Australia became smoke-free on May 31, 2010.
- India with 275 million tobacco users has one of the highest levels of tobacco consumption in the world.
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How harmful is tobacco
Green tobacco sickness is caused by the nicotine that is absorbed through the skin from the handling of wet tobacco leaves. Second-hand smoke is the smoke that fills restaurants, offices or other enclosed spaces when people burn tobacco products such as cigarettes, bidis and water pipes. There are more than 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer.
In adults, second-hand smoke causes cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. In infants, it causes sudden death. In pregnant women, it causes low birth weight.
How to quit smoking
Pictorial warnings may work for some. But some might need counselling and medication.