Every year on the 31 May, World No Tobacco Day is celebrated across the world.

It is a day that raises the profile of the health risks of smoking, and encourages smokers to go without cigarettes for the day.

It furthermore encourages Governments to implement effective measures and policies to reduce tobacco use.

What are the aims?

The World Health Organization first created the day in 1987. It aims to increase awareness of the devastating harms of smoking, secondhand smoking and now thirdhand smoking, as well as highlight the deceitful tactics of the tobacco industry.

It furthermore contributes to protecting present and future generations from starting to smoke, and most importantly, the day encourages and supports smokers to quit.

How devastating is it?

Each year, nearly 6 million people across the globe die from diseases caused by smoking. Of these deaths, more than 600,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing in secondhand smoke.

Every year in Australia, 15,500 people die from smoking, and closer to home in Victoria, this is about 4,000 deaths a year that could have been prevented.

What is this year’s theme for World No Tobacco Day?

The theme for this year’s World No Tobacco Day is for all countries to ‘Get ready for plain packaging’. Plain packaging refers to measures that restrict or prohibit the use of logos, colours, brand images or promotional information on cigarette packaging.

Australia was the first in the world to implement this initiative in 2012 with great outcomes for public health.

Plain packaging is an important demand reduction measure. It helps to:

  • reduce the attractiveness of tobacco products (especially amongst young people)
  • restrict the use of tobacco packaging as a form of tobacco advertising and promotion
  • limit misleading packaging and labelling
  • increase the effectiveness of health warnings.

Are you prepared to go smokefree for the day?

If you’re thinking about quitting, but are not sure, World No Tobacco Day provides the perfect opportunity to have another go.

If you’re not ready, you can begin by practicing not smoking for a few hours, or you could try not smoking for a half a day.

A craving usually lasts 2 to 5 minutes, so it is important to put some strategies in place that will help you get through the day. If you’re interested in having a go…

Here are some quick tips that can help you:

  • Eat a piece of fruit, a healthy snack or chew some sugar free gum
  • Play a game on your phone/computer or tablet
  • Do some quick stretches, go for a short walk or do some formal exercise
  • Practice deep breathing or mindfulness by focusing on the present moment
  • Play your favourite music and sing out loud or dance
  • Brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with mouth wash
  • Use some nicotine gum/the lozenges/the mouth spray or the oral strips
  • Speak to your doctor about the prescription medications
  • Call the Quitline (13 7848) for further support

Going smokefree is achievable

Create your own personal list of strategies, as this will help you stay on track.

Quit before? Learn from your previous quitting experiences of what worked and didn’t work, and have another go!

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For further information about World No Tobacco Day, visit the World Health Organization.

Until next time, wishing you all great health and wellbeing and a Happy World No Tobacco Day!

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Scollo, MM & Winstanley, MH (2016). Tobacco in Australia: Facts and issues. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria.

Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health (2014). Let’s make the next generation tobacco-free. Your Guide to the 50th Anniversary Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

World Health Organization. World No Tobacco Day 2016: Get ready for plain packaging