Mr. Speaker, for the past 12 years, May 31 is World No-Tobacco Day, a date set by the World Health Organization to invite us to encourage those around us to stop smoking, at least for one day, or even to give it up permanently.
It is also an opportunity to encourage all authorities responsible for health to continue their research on the harmful effects of smoking, to disseminate information on the subject, and to engage in concrete actions against smoking.
The proportion of health problems affecting the world's population that is related to smoking is not to be underestimated. According to World Health Organization estimates, there are approximately 4 million tobacco-related deaths every year and, if the trend continues, within 30 years smoking will become the top cause of illness in the world. One in eight deaths could be linked to smoking.
Given the immediate and long term harmful effects of tobacco on health, it is essential for there to be clear and firm support to any antismoking measures and to co-ordinate worldwide efforts in this connection, in order to enhance the effectiveness of our response to the public health hazard tobacco represents.