A new study finds that World No Tobacco Day, on May 31, promotes awareness and interest in quitting smoking, the Los Angeles Times reports. The study of seven Latin American countries found on that day, news coverage of smoking cessation increased by as much as 83 percent, and Internet searches about the topic jumped by up to 84 percent, compared with other days. The study appears in the May/June issue of Journal of Medical Internet Research, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of World No Tobacco Day.
Researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health monitored news promoting smoking cessation, and Internet searches related to quitting smoking, for six years in Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Chile and Ecuador.
“People who live in low-and middle-income countries comprise a majority of the deaths from the global tobacco epidemic. Our study provides initial evidence that World No Tobacco Day encourages cessation awareness and cessation interest in these countries,” researcher Joanna Cohen, PhD said in a news release. “The majority of smokers do want to quit, and World No Tobacco Day is an effective reminder and inspiration.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco kills almost 6 million people every year, and is one of the leading preventable causes of illness and death worldwide. On World No Tobacco Day, WHO is calling on world leaders to guard against “the increasingly aggressive attacks by the industry which undermine policies that protect people from the harms of tobacco,” the organization stated in a news release.
“Almost 6 million people die each year from tobacco, including 600,000 from secondhand smoke. Anything that helps people quit tobacco is a life-saver,” said Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative. “This research encourages all of us to continue the long fight against tobacco. But we should never let down our guard against the tobacco industry’s devious tactics to undo the public health gains we have been able to make.”