May 31 has been designated by the World Health Organization as "World No Tobacco Day", which, as they cite: "highlight[s] the health risk associated with tobacco use and advocating for policies to reduce tobacco consumption". Over the years government mandates at many levels have reduced advertising for tobacco products on venues like billboards and buses.
In Latin America, smoking tobacco and snuff is still widespread among all ages. While US officials utilize everything from "If You Were Born After" calendars to undercover mini-mart stings to reduce underage and excessive consumption of tobacco, which can cause anything from gum disease to fatal lung cancer and heart attacks.
A study by the Peruvian Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs reported that about a quarter of school-age children in Peru have begun smoking tobacco or snuff as early as the age of 8. The report said that half of the population has smoked at least one time in their life.
Colombian radio Caracol reported on a woman, Maria Velez, who smoked as many as 40 cigarettes a day for 40 years. With the help of the Comfenalco Compensation Fund, an organization celebrated in that country on World No-Tobacco Day, she and 426 other people have successfully quit smoking.
However, while tobacco and other vices such as alcohol continue to plague many people with side effects and health concerns, the tobacco industry is extremely important in many parts of the world. In North Carolina, USA, tobacco is one of the top trades besides iconic Smoky Mountain wood-based furniture.
Thousands of acres across the Tarheel State are covered in the thick brown-green tobacco leaves, and farmers from Greensboro to Greenville depend on the crop to support their families. In Virginia, a testament to the importance of the tobacco industry stands only feet from two major American highways. A towering red and white "Marlboro" cigarette pack with a cigarette sticking out of the top stands alongside Interstate 95 and US Route 301 in Petersburg, Va., as a testament to the importance of one of America's most storied conglomerates, Philip Morris, now Altria, and their activity in the tobacco industry in the Old Dominion.
And so goes the age old debate over whether tobacco should become a more-regulated commodity in all parts of the world. Back in Peru, the "White Wave", a mass display of support of a ban on cigarette advertising in that country, convenes on World No Tobacco Day at 11 a.m. local time, as many in Latin America and worldwide continue to show their support for both sides of the discussion.