Theme: Tobacco – People need food not tobacco

A global food crisis is growing fueled by conflict, climate change, impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine driving rising prices of food, fuel and fertilizer. Tobacco growing and production lead to long term, global ecological harms and climate change, and plays a crucial role in determining the future of agriculture and food security. WHO today announces the 2023 global campaign for World No Tobacco Day – focused on growing sustainable food crops instead of tobacco.

Currently, tobacco is grown in over 125 countries as a cash crop, over an estimated area of 4 million hectares (ha), which is an area larger than the country of Rwanda. The harmful effects of the cultivation on the environment are particularly apparent in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).

The campaign will encourage governments to end subsidies for tobacco growing and use savings for crop substitution programmes that improve food security and nutrition. The campaign will also aim to raise awareness about the ways the tobacco industry interferes with attempts to substitute tobacco growing with sustainable crops, thereby contributing to the global food crisis.

World No Tobacco Day 2023 will serve as an opportunity to mobilize governments and policymakers to support farmers to switch to sustainable crops through creating market ecosystems for alternative crops and encourage at least 10 000 farmers globally to commit to shifting away from tobacco growing.

Scarce arable land and water are being used for tobacco cultivation with thousands of hectares of woods being destroyed to create space for tobacco production and to make fuel for curing tobacco leaves. Fertile land is thus being destroyed and cannot be used for growing much needed food crops.

In many countries where tobacco production and growing are consequential, the issue of livelihoods often comes as an impediment for the implementation of strong tobacco control measures.

“The tobacco industry is using the farmers livelihoods by creating front groups to lobby against policy changes aimed at reducing demand for tobacco,” said Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion, “We need to protect the health and well-being of farmers and their families, not only from the harms of tobacco growing but also from the exploitation of their livelihoods by the tobacco industry.”

Farmers are often under contractual arrangements with the tobacco industry and are trapped in a vicious circle of debt. In most countries, the tobacco industry provides farmers seeds and other materials needed to grow tobacco and then later removes the costs from the earnings, which makes moving away from tobacco very difficult from a farmer’s perspective. But the tobacco industry often fails to give farmers a fair price for their product and, farmers often fail to pay back the loan in full.

With partners, the global campaign will raise awareness about alternative crop production and marketing opportunities for tobacco farmers and encourage them to grow sustainable, nutritious crops. These crops will feed their families and millions more on a global scale, help them break free of the vicious debt-ridden cycle of tobacco growing, and support a healthier environment overall. The campaign will also support governments in developing suitable policies, strategies and enabling market conditions for the tobacco growing farmers to shift to growing food crops.

World No Tobacco Day Awards 2023

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for nominations to the World No Tobacco Day Awards of individuals or organizations in each of the six WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control.

Guidelines for nominations

The objective of these criteria is to facilitate nominations, bearing in mind that the final decision about whether to bestow an award rests with the WHO Regional Directors and the WHO Director-General.


There will be a maximum of six World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) awards per WHO region. Two of the awardees might be granted special recognition by means of a WHO Director-General Special Recognition Award.

Who can make nominations

Anyone can submit names for consideration.

Who can be nominated

  • The nominee can be an individual or a collective (e.g., a nongovernmental organization devoted to tobacco control) or a government department/Ministry that has made outstanding contribution to tobacco control.
  • The nominee must have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the policies and measures contained in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and its guidelines, particularly in relation to the theme of World No Tobacco Day.

Who cannot be nominated

  • WHO or other United Nations staff and their relatives.
  • People or collectives employed by or involved with the tobacco industry and their relatives.
  • People or collectives who had received a World No Tobacco Day award in the two previous years.

How to submit a nomination

The nomination form can be submitted by email to the WHO Regional Office (see regional contact list attached). Nominations should be written in one of the six WHO official languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, or Spanish). Nomination form should be typed, up to 200 words (maximum) and no handwritten forms will be accepted.

On each nomination form, you will need to provide the following information:

  • Complete name of the nominee.
  • Title of the nominee, if a person.
  • Gender of the nominee, if a person.
  • Address of the nominee, including email or phone.
  • Language to be used on the correspondence with nominees and on the certificates.
  • Complete name of the nominator.
  • Title of the nominator, if a person.
  • Address of the nominator, including email or phone.
  • Detailed description of the reason for the nomination, including the dates of the actions.
  • In addition to the description of the achievement, we also strongly encourage testimonial letters from up to two individuals (other than the nominator) who support the nomination. These testimonial letters are an integral part of the nomination process, since they help to paint a complete picture of your nominee for the members of the Selection Committee. NOTE: we do not contact the originators of the testimonial letters.

Possible reasons for nominations are: 

  • The nomination can be for a particular action, or for a group of actions, or for the body of a nominee’s work in the area of tobacco control at any local, national, regional or international level.
  • The nominee may have set a meritorious (or distinctive) example for others in the tobacco control movement.
  • The nominee may have overcome a big obstacle in achieving the objective for which he or she is considered worthy of a World No Tobacco Day award.
  • The nominee may have demonstrated outstanding leadership or commitment or been particularly innovative in his or her approach to tobacco control.
  • The nominee may have brought particular resources or knowledge or expertise to bear on tobacco control.
  • The nominee may have made an outstanding contribution to tobacco control as a crucial measure to rolling back noncommunicable diseases to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages).
  • Nominations for reasons based on the regular parliamentary or administrative work of nominees (in official or personal capacity), e.g. the hosting or chairing of meetings, will not be considered.

Publicity of call for nominations
WHO Headquarter, and its Regional Offices will give broad diffusion to the call for nominations. Each region will indicate how to send the regional nominations to the WHO regional office.

Gender balance

WHO is committed to achieving a gender balance in WNTD awardees and conducted a gender analysis in 2019 of the recipients of the previous 8 year’s World No Tobacco Day awards. Female recipients have consistently been underrepresented: On average, across all WHO regions, only 16% of recipients were female while 54% went to male recipients and 30% went to institutions.

To address the issue of female recipients being underrepresented, WHO strongly encourages the nomination of female awardees. This will promote more female role models in tobacco control and encourage young female leaders to join our fight against tobacco.

The deadline for submissions of nominations is Friday, 6 January 2023, at 17:00hrs (GMT).

Award selection
A committee formed by Director of the WHO Health Promotion Department (HPR), Programme Manager of the Tobacco Free Initiative, a representative from the Convention Secretariat of the WHO FCTC and the six Regional Advisers will examine the nominations and will select up to six candidates per region based on merit.

While making the shortlist the committee may agree on a set of shortlisting criteria. Any recommendation to award the WHO FCTC focal point in the government should only be made if he/ she has made outstanding contribution to advance WHO FCTC implementation and not just for routine work or participation in COP and Working group meetings.

Each regional list will be submitted for approval of the respective WHO Regional Director (RD). After approval from the RD, the list will be submitted to the WHO Director-General (DG) for confirmation. This committee will also recommend to the DG the two nominees for the WHO Director-General Special Recognition Award from among the list of the RDs approved lists.

Nepotism and favoritism are not allowed.

To foster a better gender-balance of award recipients, nominations of female awardees are particularly encouraged. WHO aims to achieve equal numbers of male and female awardees in 2020 and will proceed with the selection accordingly.

Announcement of awardees

WHO HQ will announce the awardees in WHO Tobacco Free Initiative’s website site five days before 31 May.