World No Tobacco Day 2023 | We Need Food, NOT Tobacco
World NO Tobacco Day is an annual event held on May 31st to raise awareness about the harmful consequences of tobacco use, promote smoking cessation, and discourage the initiation of smoking. The theme for the 2023 World No Tobacco Day is “We need food, not tobacco,” focusing on encouraging tobacco farmers to grow sustainable and nutritious crops instead of the harmful tobacco. This theme also sheds light on the tobacco industry’s efforts to hinder the transition from tobacco farming to sustainable crops, worsening the global food crisis especially on the poor nations.
Tobacco use is a major global public health concern, that leads millions of deaths every year from tobacco-related illnesses. The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies tobacco as the leading preventable cause of death worldwide, with over 7 million deaths annually attributed to smoking alone.
The food crisis is driven by factors such as conflicts, climate-related shocks, and the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The choice of crops plays a role, and tobacco cultivation contributes to increased food insecurity. Each year, millions of hectares of land are used for tobacco farming. Tobacco farming requires heavy pesticide and fertilizer use, leading to soil degradation. Moreover, the land used for tobacco farming has reduced potential for growing other crops due to tobacco’s negative impact on soil fertility. Compared to other agricultural activities, tobacco farming has a more destructive impact on ecosystems, making tobacco farmlands less arable for other crops.
The 2023 World NO Tobacco Day campaign calls for stricter legislation, policies, and strategies to support tobacco farmers in transitioning to food crop cultivation. The campaign also aims to increase awareness of the health risks associated with tobacco use and urges policymakers to implement measures that prevent people from starting tobacco consumption. Comprehensive tobacco control policies, such as increased taxes on tobacco products, bans on advertising and promotion, and smoke-free public spaces, have proven effective in reducing tobacco use.