World No Tobacco Day

photo of John Michael Pierobon By: John Michael Pierobon

Most Americans are unaware that today, May 31, is World No Tobacco Day.

World No Tobacco Day is an annual awareness day sponsored by the World Health Organization to highlight the health and other risks associated with tobacco use and encourage governments to adopt effective policies to reduce smoking and other tobacco use.

The theme this year is "Tobacco and Heart Disease". World No Tobacco Day 2018 aims to:

Cardiovascular diseases kill more people than any other cause of death worldwide. Tobacco use and high blood pressure are the top two causes of heart disease, stroke, and other vascular diseases. This is why the World Heart Federation supports strong limitations on active and passive smoking.

The global tobacco epidemic kills more than seven million people each year, of which 890,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing secondhand smoke. The deadly effect of tobacco smoke is not confined solely to smokers.

Any assumption that smoking less protects against heart disease or stroke has been dispelled by an extensive study published in the prestigious British Medical Journal in January 2018. The study shows the extent to which smoking even one cigarette a day is associated with major cardiovascular risk.

Under current state law it is perfectly legal to smoke in every playground, park and beach in Florida without exception. Thus everywhere children play, they, their parents, and their grandparents are exposed to secondhand smoke. Breathing secondhand smoke is in essence involuntary smoking.

The incidence of heart attacks in Florida deceased by 15 percent when the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act became law. How many heart attacks can be prevented if our playgrounds, parks and beaches were smoke-free?

Our state government, particularly the legislature, must make a commitment to promote heart health by protecting our citizens from the use of tobacco products and exposure to noxious tobacco smoke. It can do so by enacting legislation to allow local communities to legally designate tobacco-free outdoor recreational areas, and make all beaches and state parks tobacco-free because there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Such legislation would be an extremely cost-effective way to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases because it is the poor who are most susceptible to cardiovascular diseases and they rely on taxpayer-funded Medicaid to cover their healthcare costs.

It would also be a very popular measure. In a recent statewide poll seven out of ten likely Florida voters said they want to prohibit the use of cigarettes and other tobacco products on beaches and in state parks. An even larger majority said local governments should have the right to prohibit smoking in public places wherever children may be present.

John Michael Pierobon is an Internet consultant based in Fort Lauderdale.
John Michael may be reached by sending electronic mail to

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