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World No-Tobacco Day

In 1987, the World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the 40th anniversary of WHO, April 7, 1988, as World No-Tobacco Day (1). The objective of World No-Tobacco Day was to encourage all persons worldwide who smoke or chew tobacco to quit for at least 24 hours. Extensive press coverage of this event stimulated and identified a range of policy and health education activities linked to the event, the specific theme of which was "Tobacco or Health: Choose Health." Illustrative activities in selected countries included bans on smoking in public places (Ethiopia), suspension of government tobacco sales (Cuba), radio and printed health messages from the government (Lebanon), poster contests (Spain), public cigarette-burning ceremonies (Nepal), and large public information campaigns (China).

The second World No-Tobacco Day, held May 31, 1989, emphasized the theme "Women and Tobacco--The Female Smoker: At Added Risk" (2). In preparation for this event, the WHO director-general asked all major United Nations agencies to collaborate by declaring their offices free from tobacco on World No-Tobacco Day. Press advisory kits, video tapes, and radio programs were distributed by WHO. After the event, the WHO's Tobacco or Health (TOH) Program received more than 300 newspaper articles from around the world documenting activities and press coverage related to World No-Tobacco Day. In some countries, these celebrations were led personally by the president (Bangladesh), a former prime minister (Sudan), or ministers of health (Nigeria, Fiji, Oman, and many others) (1). Reported by: H Restrepo, MD, Adult Health Program, Pan American Health Organization, Washington, DC. Program Svcs Activity, Office on Smoking and Health, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: WHO estimates that each year approximately 2.5 million premature deaths occur worldwide as a result of tobacco use (3). World No-Tobacco days, like the Great American Smokeout in the United States each November (4), focus global attention on tobacco use. In the United States in 1989, approximately one third (almost 18 million persons) of all smokers participated in the Smokeout by decreasing cigarette smoking (25.4%) or quitting for the day (10.5%) (4).

On May 31, 1990, WHO will celebrate the third World No-Tobacco Day; the theme for this event will be "Childhood and Youth Without Tobacco" (2). Additional information about the event can be obtained from the Adult Health Program, Pan American Health Organization (telephone (202) 861-3261) or CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (telephone (301) 443-5287).


  1. Report of the WHO Technical Advisory Group on Tobacco or Health. TOH/TAG/89.11. Geneva: Switzerland: World Health Organization, November 3, 1989.

  2. Stroot P. World No-Tobacco days. World Health Organization Tobacco Alert 1990 (January):2.

  3. Mahler H. Tobacco or health: choose health. World Health Forum 1988;9:78-83.

  4. Lieberman Research Inc. A study of the impact of the 1989 Great American Smokeout: summary, Gallup Organization. New York: American Cancer Society, 1989.

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