World No Tobacco Day: Why it Matters to Us - Care+Wear

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World No Tobacco Day: Why it Matters to Us

  • 7 min read

In honor of World No Tobacco day, we wanted to share a little more information on the day and why it matters.


Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners recognize World Tobacco day on May 31. This national day of awareness, organized by the WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative, seeks to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco usage and advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. The goal of this post is to talk about the purpose of this awareness day and why it matters to us.

Let’s begin by learning some background about World No Tobacco Day:

Who organizes this awareness day?

World No Tobacco Day is organized by the Tobacco Free Initiative. This Initiative operates within the WHO, a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. The WHO established the Tobacco Free Initiative in 1998 in response to the global tobacco epidemic’s massive toll of death, sickness, and misery. Consequently, the Initiative’s mission is to reduce the global burden of disease and death caused by tobacco in order to protect present and future generations from its effects.

What happens each World No Tobacco Day?

Each year, the Tobacco Free Initiative uses World No Tobacco Day to highlight an effective policy regarding tobacco consumption reduction through an annual theme. Last year, the theme was to stop the illicit trade of tobacco products. Prior to that, the theme was raising tobacco taxes.

What’s happening this year for World No Tobacco Day?

What is this year’s theme?

This year, the Tobacco Free Initiative calls on the WHO’s Member States to get ready for plain (standardized) packaging of tobacco products. Plain packaging is a method of reducing demand for tobacco products by limiting their attractiveness.

What does plain packaging look like?

Plain packaging restricts the use of logos, colors, brand images, and promotional information. What’s left on tobacco packaging is health warnings, brand names, and product names displayed in a standard color and font style. You can see an example here from this year’s World No Tobacco Day brochure:


Does plain packaging work?

Yes! After Australia implemented it in 2012, concrete evidence of plain packaging’s effectiveness was demonstrated. For example, a study of young adults instructed to use plain cigarette packs found that plain packaging increased their negative perceptions about the pack and smoking. Plain packs also increased behaviors such as hiding packs, smoking less around others, going without cigarettes, and increased thinking about quitting. As a result of this success, countries such as the United Kingdom and France are in the process of implementing plain packaging laws.

What does the WHO attempt to accomplish this year through this theme?

The goal this year is to encourage policy makers, civil society, and the public to take action and ensure that their governments consider adopting plain packaging in four ways:

    1. Highlighting the role of plain packaging as part of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control,
    2. Facilitating policy development by Member States and the globalization of plain packaging by providing informative, compelling, and persuasive information,
    3. Encouraging Member States to strengthen packaging and labelling measures and restrictions on advertising, promotion, and sponsorship as they work towards plain packaging, and
    4. Supporting Member States and civil society against tobacco industry interference in political processes leading to the adoption of plain packaging laws.

Now that we’ve talked about the background behind World No Tobacco Day, let’s discuss why World No Tobacco Day matters:

How does tobacco affect the US?

Today, smoking kills half of its users. It kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined. In fact, smoking reduces life expectancy by an average of 14.5 years for women and 13.2 years for men. Despite these drawbacks, nearly one in six American adults currently smoke cigarettes. As a result, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the US.

What can tobacco do to me?

Smoking damages the cells that line your lungs. Besides for hurting lung tissues almost immediately, smoking exposes your lungs to carcinogens. Cigarette smoke contains 7,000 chemicals, at least 70 of which are known to cause cancer. With repeated exposure, the normal, healthy cells that line your lungs become increasingly damaged. This causes them to begin acting abnormally and eventually develop cancer. Consequently, smoking is directly responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths.

Let’s talk some more about lung cancer:

Is smoking the only thing that causes lung cancer?

Smoking causes the majority of lung cancers, both in smokers and people who have been exposed to secondhand smoke. However, lung cancer also occurs in people who have never smoked or been affected by secondhand smoke in a significant way. In these cases, there is no clear cause for the lung cancer. 

What are some risk factors for lung cancer?

Besides for smoking, other risk factors for lung cancer include exposure to secondhand smoke, exposure to radon gas, exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens, and a family history of lung cancer.

What are some complications that can be caused by lung cancer?
    • Shortness of breath: occurs when the cancer grows to block major airways
    • Coughing up blood: occurs when the cancer causes bleeding in the airway
    • Pain: occurs frequently, increases in intensity when the cancer spreads beyond just the lung to other parts of the body, such as a bone
    • Fluid in the chest: occurs when fluid accumulates in the space surrounding the affected lung
    • Metastasis: occurs when the lung cancer spreads to other parts of the body (if it spreads to other organs, the cancer is generally not curable)

How do you know if you’re being affected by lung cancer?

What are some signs that I might have lung cancer?

Typically, lung cancer doesn’t exhibit any signs or symptoms of its existence in its early stages. Rather, these symptoms appear when the disease is in its advanced stages. Signs of lung cancer include:

    • Coughing up blood
    • A new cough that doesn’t go away
    • Changes in a chronic cough or “smoker’s cough”
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain
    • Wheezing
    • Hoarseness
    • Losing weight without trying
    • Bone pain
    • Headache
How do I know if I should see a doctor?

If you see any signs or symptoms that are common for people with lung cancer, visit your family doctor first. If your doctor suspects that you may have lung cancer, they will refer you to a specialist, such as an oncologist, who can give you a more specific diagnosis.

How do doctors diagnose lung cancer?

The most common tests that doctors run to diagnose lung cancer are the following:

    • Imaging tests: your doctor can use x-ray tests to reveal abnormal masses or nodules on the lungs, or a CT to reveal smaller lesions on lungs that can’t be detected by x-rays
    • Sputum cytology: if you have a cough and are producing sputum, your doctor can look at the sputum under a microscope to check for the presence of lung cancer cells
    • Tissue sample (biopsy): your doctor can take a sample of abnormal cells from your body and test them in a biopsy procedure to determine if they are cancerous

What happens if you are diagnosed with lung cancer?

What does the doctor do after they diagnose you with lung cancer?

Before determining any course of treatment, the doctor will have to first determine the extent, or stage, of your cancer. There are four stages of lung cancer:

    1. Stage I: the tumor is less than two inches across, the cancer is still limited to your lung, and the cancer has not yet spread to your lymph nodes
    2. Stage II: the tumor is greater than two inches across, or may be a smaller tumor that involves nearby structures
    3. Stage III: the tumor has become very large and has invaded other organs, or may be a smaller tumor accompanied by cancer cells in lymph nodes further away from the lungs
    4. Stage IV: the cancer has spread beyond just the originally affected lung to the other lung, or more distant areas of the body
Based on the stage of lung cancer, what treatment options do doctors typically recommend?

When determining a cancer treatment plan, you and your doctor will make decisions based on a number factors, including:

    • Your overall health
    • Type and stage of your cancer
    • Your preferences

Typically, cancer treatment plans involve one of more of the following treatments:

    • Surgery: the surgeon works to remove the lung cancer and a margin of healthy tissue
    • Chemotherapy: your doctor uses drugs to kill cancer cells by giving them to you intravenously or orally
    • Radiation therapy: your doctor uses high-powered energy beams from x-rays or protons to kill cancer cells
    • Targeted drug therapy: your doctor targets specific abnormalities in cancer cells through drug therapy
Besides for medical treatment, how else can you cope with having lung cancer?

A diagnosis with cancer, especially lung cancer, can be overwhelming. With time, you’ll find ways to cope with the distress and uncertainty of living with this disease. For now, you may find it helpful to do any of the following:

    • Learn enough about lung cancer to make decisions about your care
    • Keep your friends and family close
    • Find someone to talk to and confide in about your experiences
    • Ask your doctor about finding support groups in your area

The Bottom Line:

World No Tobacco Day is an awareness day that demonstrates the health risks associated with tobacco usage and advocates for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. This day is significant because of the countless harmful effects of tobacco use on people, economies, and countries.

At Care+Wear, this day is especially important to us because of the connection between tobacco use and lung cancer. Many members of our community have been or know someone who has been affected by cancer. If you know any patients with lung cancer who are receiving treatment through a PICC line or chest port, please check out our products and help your loved ones get back to living their lives.

We hope this blog post about World No Tobacco Day and lung cancer was helpful, and we’d love to hear from you about more blog post topics!



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