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World No Tobacco Day 2023: We need food, not tobacco!

31 May 2023
WNTD 2023

The World Health Organisation’s World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is every year on 31st May.

WNTD was created to bring awareness to more people about the dangers and health risks of smoking tobacco, and ultimately, to stop use of tobacco around the world. Approximately 8 million tobacco-related premature deaths occur every year globally, and if we do not act now I billion premature deaths are projected by the turn of this century globally. Close to 7,000 tobacco-related deaths occur in Ireland alone yearly and approximately 1 million current smokers exist in Ireland. Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature mortality and morbidity worldwide.

The theme of WNTD 2023 is “We need food, not tobacco”. By supporting this global initiative, we can contribute to creating a tobacco-free world where individuals can live healthy and fulfilling lives. The 2023 global campaign intends to encourage tobacco growers to produce nutrient-dense, sustainable crops by increasing awareness of alternative crop production and marketing prospects. Additionally, it will strive to highlight the tobacco industry's tactics to obstruct initiatives to replace tobacco farming with environmentally friendly crops, which would worsen the world food crisis.

Dr Zubair Kabir- Senior Lecturer in Public Health – a strong advocate for a tobacco-free society reflects on the history and significance of WNTD, which dates to 1987 when the World Health Assembly passed a resolution calling for a global initiative against the tobacco epidemic. In response, the WHO announced May 31 as WNTD to mark the anniversary of the acceptance of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in 2003. This treaty is the first international agreement aimed at reducing tobacco consumption and its devastating health effects. The significance of WNTD lies in its focus on the prevention and control of tobacco use. The tobacco industry also contributes to environmental degradation and the exploitation of vulnerable communities. WNTD is an opportunity to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking and to advocate for effective policies and programs to reduce tobacco consumption.

The Ukraine war is a stark reminder of the current global food crisis, which is also impacted by climatic shocks and the COVID-19 pandemic. Tobacco growing and production exacerbates food insecurity. Dr Kabir states that “the intersection of tobacco use, and food insecurity is complex”. He, however, thinks that child hunger in many parts of the world can be reduced through structural interventions. The 2023 WNTD campaign calls on governments and policymakers to step up suitable policies towards a more sustainable food production to achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2 – zero hunger.


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