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CDC Celebrates World No Tobacco Day

Photo: Wireframe of globeSeveral actions have been taken to reduce tobacco use. Learn how you can help eliminate smoking as the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the world and save lives.

What Is World No Tobacco Day?

World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is an annual awareness day celebrated around the globe that:

  • Draws worldwide attention to the tobacco epidemic
  • Highlights the need for effective policies to reduce tobacco use

World No Tobacco Day is celebrated each year on May 31 and is sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO).

What Is the Focus of This Year's Event?

For WNTD 2014, WHO and its partners are calling upon countries to raise taxes on tobacco products. This recommendation is among several actions also identified in the 2014 Surgeon General's Report—The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress to more quickly and dramatically reduce tobacco use.

How Smoking Rates Fell After Turkey Raised Taxes and Prices on Cigarettes

As reported in the May 30, 2014, issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the average price paid per 20 cigarettes in Turkey increased by 42% between 2008 and 2012. The rise in prices reflected a 2010 increase in the country's Special Consumption Tax on Tobacco. As the cost of cigarettes increased, the average smoking rate dropped by 14.6% between 2008 and 2012, from 30.1% to 25.7%.

Photo: Turkish mother and daughter

Following the 2010 increase in tobacco taxes:

  • The average price paid for cigarettes increased.
  • Cigarettes became less affordable.
  • A significant drop in smoking rates occurred, with the largest reduction occurring among people of low socioeconomic status.

This shows the potential role tobacco tax increases can play in helping to reduce health gaps between different socioeconomic groups by reducing tobacco use—especially among low-income populations.

What Proven Strategies Work to Reduce U.S. Smoking Rates?

Smoking has been the number one cause of preventable death and disease in this country for decades. The death and disease from tobacco—which claims more than 480,000 lives each year—is overwhelmingly caused by cigarettes and other burned tobacco products.

There are many ways to reduce smoking rates quickly and dramatically. Among those strategies proven to work are:

  • Higher prices on cigarettes and other tobacco products that discourage young people from starting in the first place and encourage adult smokers to quit
  • Affordable quit-smoking treatments that are easily available to people who want to quit
  • Comprehensive smokefree and tobacco-free policies in public places that protect nonsmokers and make smoking the exception rather than the norm
  • Mass media campaigns, such as CDC's Tips From Former Smokers campaign, that inform people of the dangers of smoking and tell them about resources to help them quit
  • State and community programs that help integrate tobacco control into medical, retail, education, and public health environments that reach groups of people who might not otherwise be exposed to tobacco control initiatives

How Can We Accelerate Progress?

The good news is that:

  • Smoking rates have been cut in half in the United States since 1964.
  • More recently, other countries, such as Turkey, have also cut smoking rates.

The challenge is that the current rate of progress to reduce tobacco use in the United States is not fast enough.

As indicated in The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress, progress can be accelerated by:

  • Raising the average excise cigarette taxes to prevent youth from starting smoking and encouraging smokers to quit
  • Expanding national media campaigns so that ads air more frequently and for longer periods of time (12 months a year for at least the next 10 years)
  • Extending proven programs and policies to more states and cities to make smoking less accessible, less affordable, and less attractive
  • Helping everyone who wants to quit by providing quit-smoking resources that are readily available and affordable
  • Making cigarettes less addictive and less appealing to youth by using federal regulatory authority
  • Expanding tobacco control and prevention research efforts
  • Fully funding comprehensive statewide tobacco control programs at CDC-recommended levels
  • Extending comprehensive smokefree indoor protections to 100% of the U.S. population

A combined approach—implementing proven strategies and those listed above—has the potential to:

  • Save millions of lives in the coming decades
  • Keep hundreds of millions of people from suffering the effects of tobacco use
  • Eliminate smoking as the leading preventable cause of death and disease

Quitting Resources

The following Web sites provide free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of people trying to quit smoking. If you want to quit, here's where you can find help:

  • Tips From Former Smokers Web site provides more information about the Tips campaign, including additional videos and links to podcasts by participants.
  • CDC's Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site is CDC's one-stop shop for information about tobacco and smoking cessation.
  • BeTobaccoFree.gov is the Department of Health and Human Services' comprehensive Web site that provides one-stop access to tobacco-related information from across its agencies. This consolidated resource includes general information on tobacco as well as federal and state laws and policies, health statistics, and evidence-based methods on how to quit.
  • Smokefree.gov provides free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of people trying to quit smoking.
  • SmokefreeWomen provides free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of women trying to quit smoking.
  • Quit Tobacco: Make Everyone Proud is a Department of Defense-sponsored Web site for military personnel and their families.
  • Smokefree Teen (SfT) is a site devoted to helping teens quit smoking.
  • SmokefreeTXT is a teen texting site.
  • espanol.smokefree.gov is a Spanish-language quitting site.
  • How to Quit provides more useful information from CDC to help you quit.
  • Million Hearts™ is a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Million Hearts™ brings together communities, health systems, nonprofit organizations, federal agencies, and private-sector partners from across the country to fight heart disease and stroke.
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