Today, May 31, marks World No Tobacco Day – an annual day of observance that highlights health risks caused by tobacco use. Each year since 1987, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners around the world mark World No Tobacco Day by highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. This year, the WHO is focusing on the importance of banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
Over the past decades, BC and Canada have made tremendous gains in de-normalizing tobacco use through education, regulation and taxation. We have seen smoking rates creeping down – slowly and steadily. In 1965, 50% of Canadian adults smoked, and by 2009 this number was reduced to 17.5% (15% in BC).
Despite this remarkable progress, health promotion advocates continue to be concerned about the smoking rate of young adults – which at 23% is much higher than the national average for everyone over 15. Many health promotion organizations are worried that tobacco companies are investing in marketing tobacco products to youth and young adults.
The Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada estimates that 44% of 15 – 19 year old tobacco users were influenced to start by smoking seen in the movies (including brand and product placement). Sadly, they also estimate that 43,000 of those Canadian teens will die prematurely.
Evidence shows that comprehensive advertising bans lead to reductions in the numbers of people starting and continuing smoking. Statistics show that banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce tobacco demand and therefore a tobacco control “best buy.”
To help reduce tobacco use, comprehensive advertising, promotion and sponsorship bans work to counteract:
- the deceptive and misleading nature of tobacco marketing campaigns
- the unavoidable exposure of youth to tobacco marketing;
- the failure of the tobacco industry to effectively self-regulate
- the ineffectiveness of partial bans
The ultimate goal of World No Tobacco Day is to collaborate to protect present and future generations not only from these devastating health consequences, but also against the social, environmental and economic impacts of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.
Northern Health, along with the WHO and its partners, supports World No Tobacco Day and is committed to making our communities healthier places to live, work and play.
World No Tobacco Day or not, any day is a good day to quit using tobacco.
For support on quitting, contact:
About Lee Cameron
Lee Cameron has worked as a regional tobacco reduction coordinator within Northern Health’s population health team since 2005. Lee lives in Terrace and calls the northwest home. Outside of work she enjoys kayaking, canoeing, hiking and fishing. Lee is a strong advocate for smoke-free spaces and the fresh air that they provide.