World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is held every year on 31 May. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and partners everywhere highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. In 2013, the theme was ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
A comprehensive ban of all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is required under the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) for all Parties. Evidence shows that comprehensive advertising bans lead to reductions in the numbers of people starting and continuing smoking. Statistics show that banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce tobacco demand and thus a tobacco control “best buy”.Despite the effectiveness of comprehensive bans, only 6% of the world’s population was fully protected from exposure to the tobacco industry advertising, promotion and sponsorship tactics in 2010.
To help reduce tobacco use, comprehensive advertising, promotion and sponsorship bans work to counteract:
- the deceptive and misleading nature of tobacco marketing campaigns;
- the unavoidable exposure of youth to tobacco marketing;
- the failure of the tobacco industry to effectively self-regulate; and
- the ineffectiveness of partial bans.
Attempts by the tobacco industry to undermine the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) are becoming ever more aggressive. For example, where jurisdictions have banned advertising of tobacco products through point-of-sale displays – known as tobacco “powerwalls” – or banned the advertising and promotional features of tobacco packaging through standardised packaging, the tobacco industry has sued governments in national courts and through international trade mechanisms. The tobacco industry also uses sponsorship and especially corporate social responsibility tactics to trick public opinion into believing in their respectability and good intentions while they manoeuver to hijack the political and legislative process. Click here to read more about WHO WNTD 2013 and see campaign materials.
World No Tobacco Day Awards
Every year, WHO recognizes individuals or organisations for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control. This year, Mr Paul Kasereka Lughembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Honourable Dr Pradit Sintavanarong, Minister of Public Health, the Kingdom of Thailand were recognised for the WHO Director-General Special awards. His Excellency the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Republic of Turkey received the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition certificate. Click here to read a full list of awards given in all six WHO regions.
Other events by country/region:
Bolivia: the Health and Sport Ministry, in coordination with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), WHO, the Municipal Government of La Paz, the Bolivian Police and Armed Forces organised a festival to inform people of the negative effects that nicotine produces on the body. WNTD was also an opportunity highlight the findings from a study which showed increased smoking among young women, and a lower age of initiation. Read more here.
Congo: The tobacco control group ROCAT in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Population and WHO Country celebrated World No Tobacco Day 2013 with a series of events including a press Conference by the Minister of Health briefing, outreach campaigns, and TV and radio coverage. Read more here.
Gabon: WNTD in Gabon focused on a number of high level meetings held with key authorities including the President of the National Assembly and the Minister Delegate to Health. Held from 28-30 May, the meetings were a chance to discuss government policy making in relation to tobacco control. Read more here.
India: a range of events were held around the country, including a national stakeholder consultation on improving the implementation of TAPS bans, rallies, skits, art exhibitions and ‘walls of shame’ of TAPS violations. Read more here.
Jamaica: An outside broadcast addressing tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) was held, as well as a national forum. Read more here.
Pacific Islands: The Cook Islands received a WHO WNTD award for its progress in tobacco control since ratifying the FCTC in 2004. Several countries also participated in a project designed to encourage sharing of information by email. Participating countries chose a letter from W, N, T or D to display as part of their activities with a flag in the photo. The intention is to make a poster of tobacco control in the Pacific by “stitching” the photos together featuring the letters to spell out WNTD 2013. Read more here.
Pakistan: Activities included seminars, orientation sessions, rallies/walks, speech/poster/sports competitions, interactive theatre, signature campaigns, banner/poster displays, picketing & meetings. Participants included local government officials, law enforcement authorities, parliamentarians, health & education government departments, media, lawyers, civil society organizations, youth and community members. In Islamabad, a 150 feet long banner carrying signatures from tobacco control activists from all over the country demanding strict tobacco control laws and their effective implementation was displayed. Read more here.
Poland: A seminar to integrate efforts for effective enforcement of ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship took place on 29 May. It was accompanied by a photographic exhibition featuring examples of tobacco industry violation and circumvention of TAPS bans at sport events and other cultural, educational, social and political activities. Read more here.
Romania: World No Tobacco Day in Romania highlighted the European Commission’s ‘Ex-smokers are unstoppable’ campaign. A media roundtable was held, where two doctors discussed the benefits of smoking cessation. Two ex-smokers also shared their personal stories of quitting smoking. Read more here.
Switzerland: NGO CIPRET ran an advertisement campaign in the canton of Geneva for WNTD with posters displayed in over 350 locations throughout the city and canton, and large ads in newspaper. As Switzerland has very weak legislation concerning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship the campaign was somewhat provocative – and provoked a strong reaction from the advertising industry. This post also contains an outline of events at WHO headquarters. Read more here.
The Philippines: The Philippines took a creative and confronting approach to WNTD. In the capital Manila, commuters were stunned to find grisly crime scenes in various locations in the metro. The cause of death: tobacco. The tobacco ‘crime scenes’ were actually art installations vividly illustrating what tobacco companies don’t want people to see: smoking kills. Read more here.
USA: Is this the world that tobacco ads hope to build? This the question asked by a video produced by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). Click here.
Vietnam: social media, a bike rally and public transport get the message out. The national week of Tobacco Control in Vietnam kicked off with a ceremony held on 25 May, which attracted 450 participants from the National Assembly, Government Offices, related Ministries, WHO Vietnam, Tobacco Control Working Groups, mass media and students. Colourful local events were also held in Hue and Nha Trang cities. Read more here.