WHAT: The World Health Organization's (WHO) No Tobacco Day is an Internet-based campaign intended to raise people's awareness about the health effects of smoking. Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death. More than five million people die from the effects of tobacco every year, and it is the only legal consumer product that kills when used exactly as the manufacturer intends. Up to half of all smokers will die from a tobacco-related disease. Second-hand smoke harms everyone who is exposed to it.
WHO: UCLA assistant research psychiatrist Michael D. Rabinoff is a strong anti-smoking advocate. His research has shown that additives inserted into cigarettes by tobacco companies make it harder for smokers to quit. He has joined the WHO's efforts via his own Internet campaign, and is offering his book, Toward a Tobacco Free World, as a free ebook available at http://www.tobaccobook.com/freebook.html.
WHEN: Sunday, May 31
BACKGROUND: "Tobacco companies spend tens of millions of dollars every year turning new users into addicts and keeping current users from quitting," said Rabinoff. "Through advertising and promotional campaigns, including the use of carefully crafted package designs, the tobacco industry continues to divert attention from the deadly effects of its products.
The book documents Big Tobacco's cunning strategies for keeping people addicted, the collusion between the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries; and (how cigarettes have been chemically altered to heighten addiction.
The goal of the WHO's current campaign focuses on decreasing tobacco use by increasing public awareness of its dangers. According to the organization, studies reveal that even among people who believe tobacco is harmful, few understand its specific health risks. Despite this, health warnings on tobacco packages in most countries do not provide information to warn consumers of the risks. More information is available at http://www.who.int/tobacco/wntd/2009/en/index.html .
MEDIA CONTACT: Mark Wheeler, UCLA Health Sciences Media Relations, (310) 562-8843.