GREAT NECK, NY -- The World Health Organization wants everyone to just say no to tobacco on May 31.
.The global observance known as World No Tobacco Day is intended to draw attention to the widespread use of tobacco and the negative effects those products have on people’s health.
According to the WHO, tobacco leads to nearly 6 million deaths each year worldwide, including 600,000 of which are the result of nonsmokers being exposed to secondhand smoke. In the US, the American Cancer Society recently reported that smoking’s toll on health is even worse than previously thought. The study found five additional diseases associated with smoking and estimated that an additional 60,000 people die every year in the U.S. due to tobacco use, bringing the annual death toll to 540,000
“Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease and death,” said Patricia Folan, DNP, director of North Shore-LIJ’s Center for Tobacco Control.
In New York, she said, it kills 28,200 people every year and afflicts “nearly 600,000 state residents with serious disease directly related to their smoking.”
Secondhand smoke is detrimental to nonsmokers --especially in children. Exposure to secondhand smoke causes nearly 42,000 deaths each year among adults in the US. In children, second secondhand smoke causes ear infections; an increase in asthma attacks; respiratory symptoms and infections; and a greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome.
This year’s World No Tobacco Day is highlighting the need to stop tobacco products from being traded illicitly because not only does it cost countries taxes and revenue, but, “more importantly, illicit tobacco trade provides more affordable tobacco products to youth, resulting in early initiation and addiction,” Dr. Folan said.
The tobacco industry in the US spends $9.6 billion annually on their marketing efforts, with much of their effort directed at children. Dr. Folan points out that tobacco ads are often found in magazines with large teen readerships.
“Movie trailers and movies with positive depictions of smoking also influence teen initiation and have been shown to increase smoking among teens,” she said.
“Community-based, antismoking programs are vitally important – both prevention and cessation programs,” said Dr. Folan. “The best way to stop smoking is to never start.”
On World No Tobacco Day, Dr. Folan is promoting a call to action for the tobacco end-game:
- more comprehensive indoor and outdoor smoking bans high taxes on cigarettes
- ban the sale and shipment of cigarettes directly to consumers through mail order or internet
- hard-hitting anti-tobacco media campaigns
- availability of smoking-cessation programs and cessation medications.
- screening and counseling for tobacco use by all healthcare providers.
- raise the age for legal access to buy tobacco products to 21. The Institute of Medicine estimates that if the legal age to buy cigarettes in the US was raised today to 21, it would result in 223,000 fewer premature deaths among people born between 2000 and 2019.
- Fund state tobacco control programs at levels recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control.