World No Tobacco Day

The World Health Organization (WHO) created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes.

Page last updated: 16 May 2018

World No Tobacco Day is celebrated around the world every year on 31 May. This year’s theme is Tobacco and heart disease aiming to increase awareness of the link between tobacco smoking, heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including stroke.

World No Tobacco Day is a day to raise awareness about the devastating health effects that tobacco use and exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke has on an individual, their family and the community. It is also a day where smokers are encouraged to start their quit attempt, or at least not smoke for the 24 hour period of World No Tobacco Day.

Tobacco smoking in Australia

Smoking tobacco is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia. Each year, smoking is estimated to kill almost 19,000 Australians and costs Australia $31.5 billion in social (including health) and economic costs.1 2

Over the last twenty years Australian Governments have implemented a broad range of tobacco control measures including:

  • staged excise increases on tobacco products;
  • education programs;
  • national anti-smoking campaigns;
  • plain packaging of tobacco products;
  • labelling tobacco products with updated and larger graphic health warnings;
  • prohibiting tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and
  • providing support for smokers to quit,  through subsidised nicotine replacement therapies on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Smoking not only affects smokers, it also affects those exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke, which can cause serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer.

In Australia, CVD is one of the leading causes of death killing one Australian every 12 minutes, with 45,392 deaths attributed to CVD in Australia in 2015.3


Many ex-smokers successfully quit without needing any support, while for others getting the right help and support can go a long way to ensure they quit smoking for good. There is a range of free advice and support services to help smokers prepare to quit and recent quitters stay smoke free including:

  • the Quitline (13 7848) a confidential telephone information advice and counselling service for people who want to quit smoking. The Quitline is available between 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call;
  • people wishing to quit can also download the free My QuitBuddy app which provides tips and tricks to support smokers during their quit attempts; and
  • local general practitioners or health providers can also provide smokers wishing to quit with information and support around the quitting process. Pharmacists can also be of assistance in providing information about medication options and products that can help smokers become smoke free.

Further information about the Quitline and other support services can be found on the Quitnow website.

Promotional Material

There is a variety of quit smoking material available that organisations and workplaces may find useful. Promotional material including posters and other resources can be ordered from the Tobacco Resources page and the Quit now resources page.

Further information on the WHO can be found on the World Health Organization website.

1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Australian Burden of Disease Study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2011. Australian Burden of Disease Study series no. 3. BOD4. Canberra: AIHW. Available at:
2 Collins D., and Lapsley H., (2008) The Cost of Tobacco, Alcohol and Illicit Drug Abuse to Australian Society in 2004/05, Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Health and Ageing, Monograph Series No.64, p65.
3 Heart Foundation, Heart disease in Australia. Available at:

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