Every May 31st is World No Tobacco Day. Since 1987, the World Health Organization has launched World No Tobacco Day to make people aware of the damage tobacco has done to the world.
The theme of World No Tobacco Day 2023 is:
“We need food, not tobacco”.
Tobacco destroys our health, the health of the tobacco farmers’ families and the health of the planet. Tobacco manufacturers have more deliberately interfered with attempts to replace tobacco growing, deepening the global food crisis. Currently, as many as 228 million people do not have enough food, and 49 million people are facing the threat of starvation.
According to WHO statistics in 2021, the top three tobacco-growing countries in the world are:
China (1,014,553 hectares),
India (431,146 hectares)
and Brazil (357,230 hectares).
China, which ranks first, is 2.3 times more than India, which ranks second. China is the world’s largest tobacco supplier.
Tobacco itself is a poisonous plant and requires the use of large amounts of chemical fertilisers during cultivation; tobacco cultivation takes a long time and often requires care. Tobacco cultivation causes up to 35 million hectares of arable land to be converted into tobacco farmland every year, and another 200,000 hectares are cut down for tobacco cultivation. As a result, growing tobacco pollutes the land heavily and contributes to desertification. During the farming process, the health of the tobacco farmer’s family was affected, and even the tobacco worker died suddenly, leaving the children to continue farming the farmland. The same lifestyle as the previous generation made them walk on the same path as the previous generation, and they could never overcome it. Generations born of tobacco have continued to repeat their fate.
World No Tobacco Day calls on tobacco farmers to try alternative, sustainable crops to re-nourish the land, such as growing beans. WHO also provides farmers with the knowledge, tools and financial support to train until they can become self-reliant.
Tobacco is grown in more than 124 cities around the world, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. Farmers are thus denied the opportunity to grow healthy food that could feed millions, keeping the world in a constant food crisis. And tobacco does not bring high income to farmers and the government. These false news are tobacco suppliers exaggerating their economic contribution.
Tobacco also seriously harms our next generation. Most adolescents who are exposed to tobacco become addicted as adults and find it difficult to quit. Tobacco smoking also damages our lungs and is the leading cause of lung cancer. The lungs damaged by tobacco smoking will be difficult to recover in a lifetime.
WHO offers many ways to tackle smoking cravings, the following four points are their recommendations:
- Delay smoking: Try to delay the moment of smoking, as long as you can!
- Take a deep breath! When you feel the craving coming, take 10 deep breaths.
- Drink water. Drinking water is a healthy alternative to sticking your mouth with a cigarette.
- Do something else to distract your attention: take a shower, read, go for a walk, or listen to music.
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Elva Lai is a passionate and determined artist. She loves reading, learning, travelling, hiking and drinking coffee in the morning. Elva received her education in Hong Kong, USA and Germany.
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