World No Tobacco Day: May 31, 2006

May 31, 2006 will mark the 19th annual World No Tobacco Day. Started in 1988 by the Coalition for World No Tobacco Day, the event is held annually on May 31st and is designed to call attention to the seriousness of the effects that the use of tobacco have on the health of society and of the individual.

Sponsored by the World Health Organization, the World No Tobacco Day was actually created as a World Health Assembly Resolution. The mission of the Coalition for World No Tobacco Day is to “raise awareness of World No Tobacco Day in the Americas by calling attention to the human and economic tolls of the worldwide tobacco epidemic and improve public health by encouraging people not to use tobacco and assisting users to quit.” (http://www.wntd.com/cfwntd_mission.cfm)

The Coalition for World No Tobacco Day is made up of nearly forty companies and organizations that hold some interest in the cessation of smoking. Some of these organizations include the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the Center for Tobacco Cessation, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the American Lung Association, cigarette smoking is now identified as the most prevalent source of preventable illness and disease, worldwide. As claimed by the ALA website, “smoking related diseases claim and estimated 438,000 American lives each year.” (http://www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=39853) Of those 438,000 smoking related U.S. deaths, the ALA estimates that approximately 342,000 of them are caused by lung disease. Currently the third largest killer in the U.S., lung disease is responsible for one in every seven American deaths.

The Coalition for World No Tobacco Day would like to see those numbers dramatically reduced. By establishing the annual World No Tobacco Day, one of only four “world days” related to a United Nations agency, (http://www.wntd.com/about_faq.cfm) collaborations of all kinds can come together to organize and sponsor anti smoking events in their area. With diverse groups such as local government agencies, schools, companies and corporations, community organizations, and volunteer groups getting into the act, World No Tobacco Day has seen anti tobacco use events and demonstrations organized on May 31st each year since 1988. There is also a strong focus on the distribution of information geared toward better education about the harmful effects of tobacco use, and about smoking cessation. The circulation of that information is dramatically increased through the World No Tobacco Day’s coverage by local and national media outlets.

If you are interested in organizing or participating in a World No Tobacco Day event in your area, you can contact the Coalition for World No Tobacco Day at (212) 610-8245 for information and ideas about how you can lend your voice and your time to the day. Individuals, companies, or organizations are welcome and encouraged to participate.

For information about how to quit smoking, the American Lung Association has helpful information about smoking cessation on their website, and the American Cancer Society has a guide to quitting smoking on their site, complete with a toll free number that smokers can call to get help in the struggle to quit.

References:
The Coalition for World No Tobacco Day;
The American Lung Association;
The American Cancer Society

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