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Perspectives in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion World No-Tobacco Day, 1991

World No-Tobacco Day, to be held May 31, 1991, is intended to encourage governments, communities, groups, and persons worldwide to become aware of the hazards of tobacco use. The objective of this event is to convince all persons who use tobacco to quit for at least 24 hours.

The theme for World No-Tobacco Day 1990, ``Childhood and Youth Without Tobacco,'' emphasized the protection of children and young persons from the adverse health effects of tobacco use (1). The World Health Organization's (WHO) Tobacco or Health Program, which assessed the impact of that event, documented a broad range of related activities, including media campaigns against tobacco use by children and youth (Indonesia, Kuwait, Mali, and the Philippines); new restrictions on advertisements for tobacco use and new package warnings (Bangladesh, Brazil, and Nigeria); a Public Health Service interagency meeting on youth access to tobacco (United States); national symposia on smoking and health (Indonesia and Taiwan); and speeches by religious leaders regarding the hazards of tobacco use (Somalia) (2).

The theme for World No-Tobacco Day 1991, ``Public Places and Transport: Better Be Tobacco-Free,'' emphasizes the right of all persons to breathe smoke-free air. Activities will include press releases, a video presentation on tobacco-free public places and transportation, and radio announcements by WHO experts on tobacco control. Reported by: H Restrepo, MD, Health Promotion Program, Pan American Health Organization, World 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:

During the 1980s, restrictions on smoking in public places became common throughout the world. In at least 30 countries, smoke-free service has been implemented on domestic airline flights; in more than 70 countries, buses or trainsare completely smoke-free or have smoke-free areas. Taxis are smoke-free in Norway and Colombia and in New York City. Approximately 40% of countries have restricted smoking in health-care facilities, and 33% have restricted smoking in schools (2). These restrictions provide protection against exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), which in the United States may cause more than 50,000 deaths among nonsmokers annually from lung cancer, heart disease, and other conditions (3).

In the United States, additional measures to prevent exposure to ETS are planned or being implemented. As of March 1991, laws restricted smoking in public places in 46 states*, in public-sector workplaces in 38 states*, and in private-sector workplaces in 17 states* (CDC, unpublished data). In addition, more than 450 local ordinances restricted or prohibited smoking in public places (4). Because of these restrictions, the proportion of the U.S. population covered by at least minimal clean indoor-air legislation has increased from 8% in 1971 to more than 80% in 1988 (5). The national health objectives for the year 2000 target tobacco-free environments in all elementary, middle, and secondary schools; an increase to at least 75% in the proportion of worksites with formal prohibitions or severe restrictions on smoking; and enactment of comprehensive laws in all states that prohibit or strictly limit smoking in the workplace and in enclosed public places, including health-care facilities, schools, and public transportation (6).

In developing countries, additional efforts to establish smoke-free public places and transportation facilities are needed to ensure protection against the adverse health consequences of ETS. Such efforts have been successful in industrialized countries and will help prevent ETS-related diseases if WHO recommendations on decreasing ETS exposure in public places and transportation are implemented.

Additional information about World No-Tobacco Day is available from Richard G. Leclair, Office of Information and Public Affairs, Pan American Health Organization ((202) 861-3439), or the Office on Smoking and Health, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC (telephone (301) 443-5287).


  1. CDC. World No-Tobacco Day. MMWR 1990;39:218.

  2. World Health Organization. World No-Tobacco Day---31 May 1991 (Press packet). Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 1991.

  3. Glantz SA, Parmley WW. Passive smoking and heart disease: epidemiology, physiology, and biochemistry. Circulation 1991;83:1--12.

  4. National Institutes of Health. Major local smoking ordinances in the United States: a detailed matrix of the provisions of workplace, restaurant, and public places smoking ordinances. Bethesda, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, 1989; DHHS publication no. (PHS)90-479.

  5. CDC. Reducing the health consequences of smoking: 25 years of progress---a report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 1989; DHHS publication no. (CDC)89-8411.

  6. Public Health Service. Healthy people 2000: national health promotion and disease prevention objectives. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service 1990; DHHS publication no. (PHS)91-50212. *Including the District of Columbia.

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