World No Tobacco Day

Every year, on 31 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners mark World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), highlighting the health and additional risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2019 is ‘Tobacco and lung health‘.

About the campaign

World No Tobacco Day 2019 will focus on the multiple ways that exposure to tobacco affects the health of people’s lungs worldwide.

These include:

Lung cancer. Tobacco smoking is the primary cause for lung cancer, responsible for over two thirds of lung cancer deaths globally. Second-hand smoke exposure at home or in the work place also increases risk of lung cancer. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of lung cancer: after 10 years of quitting smoking, risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.

Chronic respiratory disease. Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition where the build-up of pus-filled mucus in the lungs results in a painful cough and agonising breathing difficulties. The risk of developing COPD is particularly high among individuals who start smoking at a young age, as tobacco smoke significantly slows lung development. Tobacco also  exacerbates asthma, which restricts activity and contributes to disability. Early smoking cessation is the most effective treatment for slowing the progression of COPD and improving asthma symptoms.

Across the life-course. Infants exposed in-utero to tobacco smoke toxins, through maternal smoking or maternal exposure to second-hand smoke, frequently experience reduced lung growth and function. Young children exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk of the onset and exacerbation of asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis, and frequent lower respiratory infections.

Globally, an estimated 165 000 children die before the age of 5 of lower respiratory infections caused by second-hand smoke. Those who live on into adulthood continue to suffer the health consequences of second-hand smoke exposure, as frequent lower respiratory infections in early childhood significantly increase risk of developing COPD in adulthood.

Tuberculosis. Tuberculosis (TB) damages the lungs and reduces lung function, which is further exacerbated by tobacco smoking. The chemical components of tobacco smoke can trigger latent infections of TB, which around a quarter of all people are infected with. Active TB, compounded by the damaging lung health effects of tobacco smoking, substantially increases risk of disability and death from respiratory failure.

Air pollution. Tobacco smoke is a very dangerous form of indoor air pollution: it contains over 7 000 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Though smoke may be invisible and odourless, it can linger in the air for up to five hours, putting those exposed at risk of lung cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and reduced lung function.

ACOSH World No Tobacco Day video series

The first video features tobacco control expert Professor Mike Daube, AO, Professor of Health Policy at Curtin University and ACOSH Life Member. Professor Daube talks about how to achieve a Tobacco Free Australia. The series will also include tobacco control experts talking about local government’s role in tobacco control, ACOSH priorities and Indigenous tobacco control.

The second video of the series features Mr Vic Andrich, President | Environmental Health Australia (WA) and ACOSH Secretary. Mr Andrich talks about how local government can further reduce the prevalence of smoking.

In the third video, Professor Tom Calma AO, National Coordinator for the Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program,  talks about how World No Tobacco Day is the perfect opportunity to take the first step in giving up the smokes. Professor Calma advises his peoples to give up for you, for health, for family and for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the oldest culture in the World. He also identifies the danger of secondhand smoke and the services available to help quit such as the Tackling Indigenous Smoking workers, your GP and the Quitline.

In the fourth video, released on WNTD, Mr Maurice Swanson, ACOSH President and CEO of the Heart Foundation (WA), talks about the priorities for ACOSH over the next five years. ACOSH will be focused on the ‘big picture strategies’ that will most effectively reduce the prevalence of smoking in the Western Australian and Australian community. ACOSH will advocate for strategies that already work and new, innovative strategies to reach our goal. ACOSH will also focus on those communities with a higher prevalence of smoking.