World No Tobacco Day occurs on 31 May every year, highlighting the health and additional risks associated with tobacco use. The theme this year is "Tobacco – a threat to development". Here, ways to encourage tobacco users to quit and advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption are shown.

World No Tobacco Day

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Tobacco kills about 50% of its users.

6 million people each year die from either direct tobacco use (more than 5 million) or second-hand smoke (more than 600,000).

Nearly 80% of the world's 1 billion smokers live in low-and middle-income countries.

Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, 250 are known to be harmful to humans.

Premature deaths that result from tobacco use causes economic burden, – depriving their families of income – and raises the cost of healthcare.

Children employed in tobacco farming are also vulnerable to "green tobacco sickness", which is caused by absorption of nicotine through the skin from handling wet tobacco leaves.

Studies show that tobacco users need help to quit as not many understand the specific health risks of tobacco use.

A 2009 survey in China revealed that only 38% of smokers knew that smoking causes coronary heart disease and only 27% knew that it causes stroke.

Upon being aware of the dangers of tobacco use, most want to quit.

Counselling and medication have been found to more than double the chance of success of quitting.

Between 1990 & 2009, cigarette consumption decreased by 26% in Western Europe but increased by 57% in Africa and the Middle East.

Picture warnings have been proven to work well, especially in reducing the number of children who begin smoking and increasing the number of smokers who quit.

However, only 19 countries meet best practice for pictorial warnings and 42 mandate pictorial warnings.

Mass media campaigns also reduce tobacco consumption by influencing people to stop second-hand smoking and convincing youths to stop using tobacco; but only 38% of countries have minimal or no restrictions on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Second-hand smoke causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. MIMS

Read more:
The struggle against smoking and the growing threat of e-cigarettes in Hong Kong
Government agencies push anti-smoking campaigns to curb teen smoking
WHO: Southeast Asia at high risk for tobacco-induced deaths