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2024 World No Commercial Tobacco Day


The tobacco industry is targeting a new generation
Photo credit: World Health Organization - World No Tobacco Day 2020

The goal of World No Commercial Tobacco Day (WNCTD) 2024 is to protect children from the influence of the tobacco industry. Children can be hurt by the tobacco industry in two main ways:

  • By being the target of tobacco ads, or
  • Through child labour on tobacco farms where children are exposed to harm.

By raising awareness, we can help create a future where our children and youth are free from commercial tobacco and vapour products.

Commercial tobacco

Commercial tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco, are harmful to health. Commercial tobacco is not to be confused with traditional tobacco used for generations by Indigenous peoples in ceremonies, rituals, and as a sacred medicine. Traditional tobacco is hand-grown, hand-harvested, and used for spiritual, cultural, and medicinal reasons.

Child labour in the tobacco industry requires global action

Tobacco farming in low and middle-income countries usually involves employing children in dangerous working environments, often without the protection they need. This negatively impacts their health in many ways, including the following:

  • Children may absorb poisons such as nicotine through their skin and as a result, may suffer from cancer, reproductive issues, mood disorders, or neurological damage.
  • The nature of the work can cause fatigue, injuries, and long-term health issues for young farmers.
  • Children in this situation have limited education opportunities, which in turn restricts their future job opportunities, income, and access to healthcare. This continues the cycle of poverty and abuse in these communities.

Children pay the price in Canada too

In Canada, young people are targeted to start using commercial tobacco and vapour products and may find it hard to quit. Every child deserves to live in a world free from the tobacco industry’s abuse and harms. The tobacco industry has rebranded itself to include vapour and promote nicotine products like the Zonnic pouch, which contains high levels of nicotine, comparable to two to three cigarettes, for adult users seeking quit-smoking support.

Sadly, both vaping products and the nicotine pouches are easy to conceal, contain a variety of flavours, and are packaged in way that makes them attractive to the younger generation. Colourful ads also aim to attract young people to start using; these tactics are similar to those used for commercial tobacco products in the past. Some young people even make competitions of “cloud chasing” and doing vape tricks, which makes it look like a fun, harmless game. But it is not!

When you see a commercial tobacco product, think about children in tobacco fields or young people trying nicotine products. Remember, in 1981 Phillip Morris Tobacco said: “Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer.” To protect our children’s future, please quit or limit commercial tobacco and vapour use.

Supports for quitting or cutting back: