In 1987, the World Health Organisation called for a world-wide
abstinence from smoking each year of 31st May. Called the ”World No Tobacco Day” this 24-hour long period is intended to draw global attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco related illnesses and negative health effects which cause 5.4 million deaths each year. However, is it seems that non-Western nations take the day more seriously and protest loudest…
My own quick research, on Google, revealed that there appears to be more awareness of this anti-smoking day and more campaigning done by non-Western countries than those who have been exposed to the tobacco industry’s marketing for years and already enjoy a significant positive reaction to anti-smoking.
Saudi Arabia, for example, has come out strongly against smoking and the Kingdom has released a booklet on the hazards of smoking. The Health Ministry is focusing on the theme that smoking has destroyed men and is now targeting women. This year’s slogan carries messages describing smoking as an epidemic and to warn people that tobacco companies are targeting young women.
They have started to deceive girls and women through direct and indirect misleading slogans,” according to Majid Al-Muneef, general supervisor of the Health Ministry’s tobacco-control program.
I suppose it is no surprise that non-Western countries should protest the loudest.
Men are still the main breadwinners and if the husband of the family were to die early or suffer chronic disability this would, more often than not, render their families financially crippled and cause many social problems. No wonder non-Western governments and citizens alike are calling out for change. Verbal warnings on packages no longer suffice and many governments have legislated that pictures should be displayed on all tobacco-related products and in shops to depict the harmful effects of tobacco.
The pictures that are going to be printed are of diseased lungs and a chest X-ray for smoking forms of tobacco. A scorpion will be depicted for chewing or smokeless forms of tobacco. ‘Smoking Kills’ and ‘Tobacco Kills’ will be some of the verbal warnings.” According to the Director of Public Health in Chennai, Dr S Elango.
Although only 200 million of the 1 billion world’s smokers are women, about 9%, the WHO theme for 2010 is “Gender and tobacco with an emphasis on marketing to women”. It appears that the tobacco industry constantly and aggressively seeks new users to replace the ones who quit and the current users –up to half – who will die prematurely and women constitute one of the biggest target opportunities for the tobacco industry to replace them.