You'd think that everything that could be said about the dangers of smoking has been said, not least on cigarette packets. But the developed and developing worlds seem impervious to these risks: according to the WHO, nearly a billion smokers would rather accept a 35% increase in mortality, and a 49% greater likelihood of cancer, than make the break with tobacco.
The organization is continuing its battle, using information and communication as weapons. World No Tobacco Day, held on 31 May of each year since 1988, is an opportunity for dialogue and the sharing of experience. Experts make themselves available to explain the effects of smoking and the best ways to give up.
A 30% REDUCTION BY 2025: MISSION POSSIBLE?
The WHO's target may seem ambitious, but there have been some encouraging signs. In Italy, a 2005 ban on smoking in public places has reduced the number of smokers by 6%, and there has been a significant and continued reduction in the number of hospital admissions for stroke, heart attack and respiratory disease. Italy is a pioneer in the crusade against tobacco, but the outlook is much more uncertain in the developing countries where the tobacco industry makes so much of its money.