Friday, May 28, 2010

World No Tobacco Day

May 31st isn't only significant for Memorial Day. Each year on this date the World Health Organization celebrates World No Tobacco Day, highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce consumption. Tobacco use is the second cause of death globally and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide. The World Health Assembly created World No Tobacco Day to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and its lethal effects. It provides an opportunity to highlight specific tobacco control messages and to promote adherence to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Tobacco use is the number one preventable epidemic that the health community faces.

The theme this year is gender and tobacco, with an emphasis on marketing to women. This event will draw particular attention to the harmful effects of tobacco marking and smoke on women and girls. It will also highlight the need for nearly 170 Parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to ban all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in accordance with their constitutions or constitutional principles. Women comprise about 20% of the world's more than 1 billion smokers. Women are a major target of opportunity for the tobacco industry, which need to recruit new users to replace the nearly half of current users who will die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases. There is also a rising prevalence of tobacco use among girls, which points to evidence that tobacco advertising increasingly targets girls. World No Tobacco Day 2010 will give the overdue recognition to the importance of controlling the epidemic of tobacco among women. The World Health Organization will also encourage governments to pay particular attention to protecting women from the tobacco companies' attempts to lure them into lifetimes of nicotine dependence. I believe that protecting and promoting the health of women against tobacco use is crucial, not only for the women of today but also for women of future generations.

Inspired by the theme for World No Tobacco Day 2010, I went to the Immaculate Conception School on Staten Island. I spoke to the girls about my platform, T.E.A.C.H. It was important for me to educate these young girls about the harmful effects of smoking; to protect them from the consequences of tobacco use. Remaining open-minded to T.E.A.C.H, these girls were ready to bring home my folders and show their parents, siblings, neighbors, anyone in their lives effected by smoking. I always find it rewarding when I can inspire the minds of our future leaders. I know these girls will lead a smokefree life, and inspire others to follow suit. So, on Monday, when you are enjoying the warm weather, barbecuing hot dogs, and waving to the beauty queens in the parade, remember to stand up to Big Tobacco and encourage the women in your community to say "No" to smoking.