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World No Tobacco Day – 31 May 2023 : Date & History, Campaign

World No Tobacco Day – 31 May 2023 : Date & History

New Delhi – World No Tobacco Day is an annual event celebrated on May 31 to draw global attention and to make the public aware on the dangers of using tobacco. It also aims to educate people around the world about their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.

It was created by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1987.

Currently, tobacco is grown in over 125 countries as a cash crop, over an estimated area of 4 million hectares (ha), which is an area larger than the country of Rwanda. The harmful effects of the cultivation on the environment are particularly apparent in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).

World No Tobacco Day 2023 will serve as an opportunity to mobilize governments and policymakers to support farmers to switch to sustainable crops through creating market ecosystems for alternative crops and encourage at least 10 000 farmers globally to commit to shifting away from tobacco growing.

World No-Tobacco Day 2023: History

In 1987, the WHO Member States established World No Tobacco Day with the aim of raising international awareness about the widespread tobacco epidemic and the avoidable suffering and loss of life it causes. To make it as a global campaign, The World Health Assembly adopted Resolution WHA40.38 in 1987, designating April 7, 1988 as the inaugural “World No Smoking Day.” Recognizing the significance of this initiative, Resolution WHA42.19 was subsequently passed in 1988, urging the annual observance of World No Tobacco Day on 31 May each year.

Campaign objectives

1.Mobilize governments to end subsidies on tobacco growing and use of savings for crop   substitution programmers that support farmers to switch and improve food security and     nutrition.
2.Raise awareness in tobacco farming communities about the benefits of moving away         from tobacco and growing sustainable crops;
3.Support efforts to combat desertification and environmental degradation by decreasing       tobacco farming;
4.Expose industry efforts to obstruct sustainable livelihoods work.
5.The key measure of campaign success would be the number of governments that pledge     to end subsidies on tobacco growing.

Focused on growing sustainable food crops instead of tobacco

A global food crisis is growing fueled by conflict, climate change, impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine driving rising prices of food, fuel and fertilizer. Tobacco growing and production lead to long term, global ecological harms and climate change, and plays a crucial role in determining the future of agriculture and food security. WHO today announces the 2023 global campaign for World No Tobacco Day.

Tobacco Farmers Livelihoods

“The tobacco industry is using the farmers livelihoods by creating front groups to lobby against policy changes aimed at reducing demand for tobacco,” said Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion, “We need to protect the health and well-being of farmers and their families, not only from the harms of tobacco growing but also from the exploitation of their livelihoods by the tobacco industry.”

Farmers are often under contractual arrangements with the tobacco industry and are trapped in a vicious circle of debt. In most countries, the tobacco industry provides farmers seeds and other materials needed to grow tobacco and then later removes the costs from the earnings, which makes moving away from tobacco very difficult from a farmer’s perspective. But the tobacco industry often fails to give farmers a fair price for their product and, farmers often fail to pay back the loan in full.

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