May 31st is World No Tobacco Day, a global event organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that encourages people around the globe to abstain from nicotine for 24 hours. This year marks the 29th World No Tobacco Day, and with greater awareness of the effects of tobacco there's arguably never been a better time to quit smoking altogether.
In recent decades, attitudes towards smoking have changed significantly. Compare the number of smokers in 1974 when 51% of men and 40% of women smoked cigarettes with the stats 40 years later and the decrease is encouraging. In 2014, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) believe this figure to have dropped to 20% of men and 17% of women.
Pleasing though this turnaround undoubtedly is, it’s still not enough. In 2016 it is still expected that 106,000 will still die from smoking related diseases.
The smoking ban, which blew through UK pubs, restaurants and workplaces in 2007 has undoubtedly contributed to the reduction in people taking up smoking. But the need to educate the public on the dangers of smoking remains, which is why the WHO’s World No Tobacco Day offers a great opportunity for those looking to quit the habit this year.
There are also a number of other factors that have helped turn the tide in the war on smoking.
Advertising laws have changed
The tobacco lobby has traditionally been a loud voice thanks to the significant revenues generated by smoking through taxation. Since the turn of the millennium, however, this has changed. Now it is illegal for cigarette manufacturers to advertise at all. The Tobacco Advertising & Promotion Act 2002 was enacted in November of that year, banning promotion in print, online, on billboards and even as sponsorship.
Cigarettes displays and packaging became the primary source of marketing, but even these displays have been removed from large stores since 2012 and smaller shops from April 2015. This helps to minimise the average shopper's contact with tobacco products.
Representation has changed
Smoking is seen a lot less on television and in cinema than it was even a few decades ago. Mass-appeal shows such as soap operas have actively reduced levels of on-screen smoking. Indeed, those that still do tend to be older characters. Smoking has become the preserve of the troubled characters in the grittiest shows.
Medical guidance has changed
The more we have been able to learn about the effects of smoking, the more outspoken health professionals have become. The days of doctors being seen to endorse certain US brands may have been over for a long time, but improvements in medical technology throughout the decades has seen the conversation shift from cigarettes as a harmless pastime to outright condemnation. Today we're fully aware of the dangers of smoking. As such, medical information and pictures are now even placed on packaging for good measure.
The cost of smoking has been made clear
In both financial terms and health terms, smoking’s impact has been made abundantly clear. Packs of cigarettes now even contain pictures of infected organs to help hit the message home. Similarly, many former smokers are able to trade their habit for an extra holiday each year or even a new family car.
Take a look at our own graphics produced in 2015 to see the cost of smoking:
If you want to take advantage of World No Tobacco Day as a starting point for kicking the habit, why not contact us today on 0208 123 0703 or take a look at our smoking cessation medication.