We observe World No Tobacco Day each May to increase awareness about health problems caused by tobacco use. This year, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “tobacco industry interference” theme highlights the tobacco industry’s efforts to thwart tobacco control policies around the world and reminds organizations and governments of their responsibility to be vigilant against the tobacco industry and help control the global tobacco epidemic.
Tobacco use is a leading cause of worldwide preventable disease and death, killing nearly six million people each year. Tobacco companies use marketing and advertising to glamorize smoking to entice children and young adults to start smoking.
To combat tobacco industry strategies, effective tobacco-control policies have been implemented in the US. These include:
- indoor and outdoor smoking bans;
- restrictions on sales of tobacco to youth; and
- increased tobacco taxes.
In addition, anti-tobacco commercials and graphic labels on tobacco products prevent thousands of children and young adults from becoming the next generation of smokers and motivate many adult smokers to quit.
While the US has made major progress against tobacco use, there’s a long way to go. Tobacco use still costs the US more than $96 billion in health care expenditures and $97 billion in lost productivity each year. One in five Americans still smokes and about 4,000 children try their first cigarette each day. We can do better.
Smokers can quit through free, comprehensive services at North Shore-LIJ’s Center for Tobacco Control.