World No Tobacco Day: Raising Awareness, Promoting Sustainable Crops Production

The World Health Organization (WHO) commemorates World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) annually on May 31, to raise awareness about the dangers and health risks of smoking, and to stop the use of tobacco around the world.

World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) aims to shed light on the extreme health repercussions of tobacco use, such as heart issues and throat and lung cancer,  and to stress the fact that it kills over seven million people around the world each year. 

This year, WHO celebrates World No Tobacco Day under the theme “We need food, not tobacco,” to encourage tobacco producers to produce nutritious, sustainable crops by informing them about alternative crop production and marketing prospects.

This year’s campaign seeks to mobilize governments to end subsidies on tobacco growing and use savings for crop substitution programs that support farmers to transit and improve food security, raise awareness in tobacco farming communities about the benefits of growing sustainable crops, and support efforts to combat desertification and environmental degradation by decreasing tobacco farming.

World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is an opportunity for Morocco to raise the alarm about the smoking plague and assess the achievements attained in the fight against tobacco.

In 2022, the Moroccan Ministry of Health and Social Protection reported that the smoking rate among Moroccan adults over the age of 18 is 13.4%, 26.9% of which are men and 0.4% women. 

The Ministry also noted that among students aged between 13 and 15 years old, the smoking prevalence is 6%, while around 35.6% of the population is exposed to passive smoking in public and professional places.

These alarming figures suggest that preventing smoking among youth is urgent, as tobacco and drug use in schools has taken on worrying proportions in recent years.

According to the results of the 2017 “MedSPAD Maroc” survey on the use of psychoactive substances among school-age adolescents, tobacco is the psychoactive product experimented at the earliest age among students aged between 15 and 17.

The smoking scourge, which affects high school, middle school, and primary school students, usually results in dramatic repercussions on the student’s schooling and health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the use of electronic cigarettes is becoming a trend spreading like a wildfire through schools, especially into the habits of youth, adding that even though these cigarettes, also known as vaporizers, may not contain tobacco, they represent a major risk for teenagers given the deleterious effects of nicotine consumption on long-term brain development, which can lead to learning disorders and anxiety.

In this context, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection has put in place the National Cancer Prevention and Control Plan (NCPCP) 2020-2029 which advocates, among other things, the generalization of the “Middle and High Schools with No Tobacco” program to all secondary schools, and the implementation of a “Higher Education Institutions with No Tobacco” program.

NCPCP also aims to implement an education program targeting young people, particularly the most vulnerable, and to reduce the appeal of tobacco products for youth through the ban on selling tobacco on school grounds, especially to minors.

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