Tobacco and its effect on the health status of most countries of the world may have led the international community to set aside a day to call the attention of all to the negative effect of tobacco consumption. Member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) created the day in 1987 and appropriately tagged it World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). It is observed around the world every year on May 31 with the intention of encouraging a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption around the globe. But the main aim of the day is to further draw attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and specifically to the negative health effects which currently lead to nearly six million deaths each year worldwide, including 600,000 of which are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
Since the commencement of the international event, governments, public health organizations, smokers, growers, and the tobacco industry have marked the day with both enthusiasm and resistance. To demonstrate its significance, it is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by WHO, along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Tuberculosis Day, World Malaria Day, World Hepatitis Day, and World AIDS Day.
Taking the event a step further, in 1987, WHO’s World Health Assembly passed Resolution WHA40.38, calling for 7 April 1988 to also be “a world no-smoking day”. The objective of the day was to urge tobacco users worldwide to abstain from using tobacco products for 24 hours, an action they hoped would provide assistance for those trying to quit. In 1988, Resolution WHA42.19 was passed by the World Health Assembly, calling for the celebration of World No Tobacco Day, every year on 31 May. Since then, the WHO has supported World No Tobacco Day every year, linking each year to a different tobacco-related theme.
In 1998, WHO established the Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI), an attempt to focus international resources and attention on the global health issue of tobacco. The initiative provides assistance for creating global public health policy, encourages mobilization between societies, and supports the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). WHO FCTC is a global public health treaty adopted in 2003 by countries around the globe as an agreement to implement policies that work towards tobacco cessation.
In 2008, on the eve of the World No Tobacco Day, WHO called for a worldwide ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. The theme of that year’s day was ″Tobacco-free youth″; therefore, this initiative was especially meant to target advertising efforts aimed at youth. The world body was emphatic on its direction which is aimed at the stopping tobacco industry replacing older quitting or dying smokers with younger consumers. Marketing strategies of the industry had been to attract youth to places such as movies, the Internet, billboards, and magazines. Studies have shown that the more youth are exposed to tobacco advertising, the more likely they are to smoke.
In 2015, WNTD highlighted the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocated for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption, including ending the illicit trade of tobacco products. This was followed up in 2016 by calls on governments to get ready for plain packaging of tobacco products. And in 2017, WNTD focussed on tobacco as “a threat to development.” The campaign aims to demonstrate the threats that the tobacco industry poses to sustainable development, including the health and economic well-being of citizens in all countries.
Each year, WHO selects a theme for the day in order to create a more unified global message for WNTD. This theme then becomes the central component of WHO’s tobacco-related agenda for the following year. The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2018, is “Tobacco breaks hearts”. WHO serves as a central hub for fostering communication and coordinating WNTD events around the world. The WHO website provides a place for groups to share news of their activities, and the organization publishes this information online by country.
The Nigerian government is using increased tariff such as cumulative specific excise duty among others to discourage smoking. The rate for tobacco is calculated at 23.2 percent of the price of the most sold brands.
This new policy is expected to be spread over a three-year period from 2018 to 2020 to moderate the impact on the prices of the products. Ironically, the new rates fall far short of the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Article 6 of its Framework Convention Of Tobacco Control (FCTC) that countries implement 70 per cent excise on tobacco products.
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