Health Notes: Today is World No Tobacco DayToday is World No Tobacco Day, and the focus is on youth.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Today is World No Tobacco Day, and the focus is on youth.
The Minnesota Department of Health, which coordinates statewide efforts along with the American Cancer Society, ClearWay Minnesota, Association for Nonsmokers Minnesota, the American Lung Association in Minnesota and the Minnesota Medical Association, are speaking out against tobacco marketing to youth, the health department said in a news release.
“Tobacco is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in our nation,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said in the news release. “We must continue our state’s efforts to keep tobacco out of our kids’ hands and help those already addicted to quit.”
This day is observed around the world every year on May 31. It encourages people to abstain from tobacco for 24 hours and draws attention to the fact that tobacco currently leads to 5.4 million deaths a year worldwide.
In Minnesota, about 625,000 Minnesotans still smoke, and about 5,135 Minnesotans die due to tobacco products each year, the news release said.
Tobacco companies spent $200 million on marketing efforts in Minnesota in 2009, according to “Unfiltered: A Revealing Look at Today’s Tobacco Industry,” from Clearway Minnesota. Many of these marketing efforts reach children, populations of color, American Indians and low-income communities, the news release said. Tobacco companies use coupons and point-of-sale marketing techniques, such as signs and in-store promotions to encourage tobacco use.
“Disproportionate tobacco use among certain groups is a huge contributor to the unequal health outcomes we see across Minnesota,” Ehlinger said. “Smoking is highest among lower socioeconomic status youth, and the American Indian community is also heavily affected.”