World No Smoking Day, 31 May 2019

21 May 2019

Article: 53/2006

The focus of this year’s World No Smoking Day is ‘tobacco and lung health’. The campaign aims to increase awareness about:

  • The particular dangers of tobacco smoke to lung health and the fundamental role the lungs play in the health and well-being of all people. 
  • Raising awareness of cost-effective and feasible actions that key audiences, including governments and the public, can take to reduce the risks to lung health posed by tobacco.

These actions include

  • tobacco control measures outlined in the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) such as raising tobacco taxes 
  • implementing smoke-free policies 
  • supporting people to quit 
  • raising awareness through mass media 
  • enforcing bans on all forms of promotion

Smoking is responsible for over two-thirds of lung cancer deaths globally, and second-hand smoke increases the risk of developing lung cancer for non-smokers. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in most countries of the WHO European Region. Approximately 430,000 people died from lung cancer in the region in 2018, and more than half a million new cases were diagnosed during that period.

Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition that results in a painful cough and agonizing breathing difficulties. It also exacerbates asthma, which restricts activity and contributes to disability. According to the latest available data, 3.6% of total deaths in the European Region were due to COPD in 2017.

Children exposed to second-hand smoke are at higher risk of developing frequent lower-respiratory infections and have a higher risk of suffering the onset and exacerbation of asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis. The link between tobacco smoking and tuberculosis (TB) is also well established, showing that the chemical components of tobacco smoke can trigger latent infections of TB.

Source: WHO, 31 May 2019