There are 5.4 million
deaths caused by tobacco, annually, of which 600,000 are passive smokers. WNTD
was created to draw attention to the negative effects of tobacco and to the
destruction it sows around.
Although WNTD has been
generally accepted with lots of enthusiasm across the globe, it has also met
with resistance from the tobacco industry.
Tobacco smoking is popular among the young and also among
those who are keen to lose weight, as many believe that smoking reduces hunger.
These are misconceptions that are born out of ignorance. The health defects of
smoking or tobacco consumption far outweigh any benefit that it may lay claim
to. Fatal diseases such as cancer, heart and respiratory diseases are among the
repertoire of health conditions that may result from tobacco usage.
Every year WHO comes
up with a theme for WNTD and that theme becomes the agenda for anti tobacco
consumption activities all through the year. This year the theme is "Ban
tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship"
. These are the three basic
tenets which ensure the survival of the tobacco industry which is compelled to
replace the six million consumers that tobacco kills each year.
During recent years
efforts were on to target younger consumers and this was clearly shown in the
marketing strategy of the tobacco industry which was more active in places
frequented by the youth, like the movies, internet, magazines or billboards.
Therefore, in accordance to the 2008 theme, "Tobacco- Free Youth,"
efforts were on against advertisements and other marketing strategies that
targeted the youth.
through advertising and indirect promotion through sponsorship of popular
public events and distribution of freebies such as T-shirts, key chains, hats
or cigarette lighters among teenagers are among the popular methods to promote
tobacco products. Children are also constantly exposed to imageries and
references of smoking through the internet. Stealth marketing or peer group
recommendation is also associated with the tobacco promoters.
Also, the tobacco
companies frequently engage in
'corporate social responsibility ' (CSR) activities which include
socially acceptable engagements such as sponsoring research, education and
charities, giving the public the wrong impression that they are socially
acceptable and responsible citizens. These are some of the common promotional
methods adopted by the tobacco industry that the WHO hopes to stop.
Several countries have
banned the display of tobacco products in retail shops and this has been successful
in reducing the misconception that tobacco use is a frequent and socially
acceptable practice. Besides, it has also helped in bringing about a decline in
smoking among teenagers.
This year there is an open call to the government, civic
bodies and the general public to ban the marketing of tobacco products and to
free themselves from the unscrupulous manipulations of the tobacco industry.
There is an emphasis on educating the general public about the negative effects
of tobacco usage and also to wean themselves off the manipulative powers of
Avoiding tobacco products is the need of every
single country in the world
After all, the future belongs only to those who are alive to enjoy it !