World No Tobacco Day (31 May): WHO Fact sheet on Tobacco (Updated 27 May 2015)

31 May is celebrated as World No Tobacco Day. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently (27 May 2015) updated its fact sheet on tobacco.

Key Messages:

Tobacco kills up to 50% of those who use it- nearly 6 million each year. Of these, more than five million deaths are due to direct tobacco use while more than 600,000 are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

Approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco, accounting for one in 10 adult deaths.

80% of the world’s smokers live in low-middle income countries.

More than 80% of the tobacco related deaths in the future will be in these countries. The disparity is due to the fact that high-income countries have more stringent tobacco laws; better access to health care services; aggressive anti-tobacco campaigns, etc.

There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.

Over 40% of the world’s children have at least one smoking parent.

In 2004, children accounted for 28% of the deaths attributable to second-hand smoke.

Awareness that smoking causes coronary heart disease and stroke (among other diseases/ conditions) is low even among smokers.

Pictorial warnings reduce the number of children who begin smoking and increase the number of smokers who quit.

Bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship can reduce tobacco consumption. However, one in three countries has minimal or no restrictions at all on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Although increasing taxes on tobacco products reduces tobacco use (especially among youth and poor people), it is a measure that is rarely used.

It is estimated that one in every 10 cigarettes and tobacco products consumed globally are illicit. The illicit market is supported by various players, ranging from petty peddlers to organized criminal networks involved in arms and human trafficking.

Eliminating illicit trade in tobacco will reduce the harmful consumption of tobacco by restricting availability of cheap, unregulated alternatives and increasing overall tobacco prices. Therefore the theme for this year’s World No Tobacco Day is: Stop illicit trade of tobacco products.

Useful Links:

Link to the updated fact sheet on tobacco:

Link to the World No Tobacco Day campaign page:


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