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?

Tobacco use is a threat to any person, regardless of gender, age, race, cultural or educational background. It brings suffering, disease, and death, impoverishing families and national economies.

Globally, there are more than 7 million deaths from tobacco use every year, a figure that is predicted to grow to more than 8 million a year by 2030 without intensified action. 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 “Tobacco – a threat to development.” It will demonstrate the threats that the tobacco industry poses to the sustainable development of all countries, including the health and economic wellbeing of their citizens.


Smoking leads to inequalities in health and financial stress – it is one of the major markers of, and contributors to social disadvantage. Smoking affects those who can least afford it…

The good news is that tobacco control measures can break the cycle of poverty! It can contribute to ending hunger, promote sustainable agriculture and economic growth, and combat climate change.

Get involved in World No Tobacco Day!

Set up displays and offer information and support to staff and colleagues who smoke. Run an information session, offer free nicotine replacement therapy (such as the nicotine patches or the gum), or host a lunch encouraging smokers to think about quitting for the day.

Are you thinking about quitting?

If you’re thinking about quitting, World No Tobacco Day provides the perfect opportunity to have another go. You can quit for the day, or you can start by not smoking for a few hours, or not smoking for a half a day. The decision is yours – take one day at a time and think about the benefits you are gaining. Think about how good you are feeling and looking! Think about how much money you’re saving – what could you spend that money on?

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!

Remember that there are many people who have successfully quit smoking. With the right information and support – you too can be successful.

If you would like further information on quitting, have a look at our previous articles, and for information on 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 (2017). 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 2017: Tobacco – a threat to development.