Tobacco: A threat to development


This week the World Health Organisation celebrated World No Tobacco Day. Each year the non-profit tackles this extremely real and truly global addiction.

2017’s theme is “Tobacco – a threat to development” and all efforts have revolved around measuring and inciting government measures as well as the general public to join forces and promote health and development of a smoke-free society.

WHO explains that the campaign “will demonstrate the threats that the tobacco industry poses to the sustainable development of all countries, including the health and economic well-being of their citizens.” The objective of the day is to propose new measures the communities can make to actively contribute to confronting the global tobacco crisis.

Tobacco is a threat that doesn’t discriminate against race, age, gender or cultural background. Currently 7 million deaths a year are associated to tobacco use and the WHO warns that this death toll is set to rise to more than 8 million per year by 2030.

The cost this substance has on governments around the world is astounding and it also has a massive impact on avoidable health-care costs and directly affects a society’s productivity. The situation is even more stifling in regions with a high percentage of poverty. “Some 80% of premature deaths from tobacco occur in low- or middle-income countries, which face increased challenges to achieving their development goals.” – World Health Organisation

While the health of our population is attacked by the global tobacco crisis, so is the health of our planet. The negative effect of tobacco use affects our environment in grave ways. Large amounts of fertilizers and pesticides are needed to grow this substance, both of which can pollute water supplies and be toxic. Tobacco growth plays an active role in global deforestation and is responsible for between 2% and 4% of annual loss. The World Health Organisation also points out that tobacco manufacturing produces an incredible 2 million+ tonnes of solid waste each year.

World No Tobacco Day is set to incentivise and ignite global conversation surrounding tobacco control. WHO’s efforts revolve around encouraging “countries around the world to include tobacco control in their national responses to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda”. In addition, the organisations noble efforts to change the influence and role tobacco plays in our society include:

  • Support Member States and civil society to combat tobacco industry interference in political processes, in turn leading to stronger national tobacco control action.[1]
  • Encourage broader public and partner participation in national, regional and global efforts to develop and implement development strategies and plans and achieve goals that prioritize action on tobacco control.[2]
  • Demonstrate how individuals can contribute to making a sustainable, tobacco-free world, either by committing to never taking up tobacco products, or by quitting the habit.[3]

For more information about getting involved in World No Tobacco Day and other WHO annual events visit










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