World No Tobacco Day is observed around the world every year on 31 May, and aims to encourage a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption. The day is also intended to draw attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and its associated health effects, which lead to almost six million deaths a year, 600,000 of which are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
Each year the World Health Organisation (WHO) selects a theme for the day in order to create a more unified global message. This year’s theme focusses on the plain packaging of tobacco products, which the WHO calls ‘an important demand reduction measure.’
Around 5,000 New Zealanders die unnecessarily from smoking-related conditions every year – more than ten times the annual road toll, and helping Kiwis quit smoking is one of the most cost-effective means of improving our nation’s health.
Whitireia Bachelor of Nursing Pacific tutor Loma-Linda Tasi is the Pacific Leader of Smokefree Nurses Aotearoa/New Zealand, and has been doing extraordinary work in smoking cessation research, both in New Zealand and across the Pacific.
Tasi drove the development of a Pacific Strategy for Smokefree Nurses Aotearoa/New Zealand that aims to address the harm caused by tobacco smoking to Pacific people, and the urgent need for Pacific nurses to have a role in reducing the burden tobacco places on the lives of individuals, families and communities.
"Pacific nurses have both a professional and personal commitment in serving Pacific communities to uplift the level of positive health and well-being," says Tasi.
"It is encouraging for Pacific people to experience a collective voice of leaders in the health and social sectors in addressing this major health issue," she says.
In 2015, Tasi also travelled to Tonga to deliver training sessions on models of practice in providing smoking cessation support to individuals and families seeking assistance to quit.
Whitireia Community Polytechnic supports World No Tobacco Day and has been smoke-free across all its campuses since 1 January 2013.