World No Tobacco Day is an event observed around the world every year on 31st of May. It aims to have a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption around the globe to highlight the widespread prevalence of its use and of its negative health effects, which currently lead to nearly 6 million deaths each year worldwide.
The member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) created the global event in 1987. The day has met with both enthusiasm and resistance around the globe from governments, public health organisations, smokers, and the tobacco industry.
Local clubs to city councils and national governments are encouraged to organize events each year to help communities celebrate and participate at the local level. These events have seen letter-writing campaigns to government officials and local newspapers, marches, public debates, local and national publicity campaigns, anti-tobacco activist meetings, educational programming, and public art.
Many governments use the day to start their implementation of new smoking bans and tobacco control efforts. Canada in 2008 World No Tobacco Day used it to introduce a section of the Smoke Free Ontario Act which banned tobacco “power walls” and displays at stores in the province and Australia used it to make all hospitals and government offices smoke-free in 2010.
So why not this year, take the the pledge here in Belgium, organise local events, and try to raise awareness of tobacco consumption and its potential dangers.