A novel evaluation of World No Tobacco day in Latin America

J Med Internet Res. 2012 May 28;14(3):e77. doi: 10.2196/jmir.2148.


Background: World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), commemorated annually on May 31, aims to inform the public about tobacco harms. Because tobacco control surveillance is usually annualized, the effectiveness of WNTD remains unexplored into its 25th year.

Objective: To explore the potential of digital surveillance (infoveillance) to evaluate the impacts of WNTD on population awareness of and interest in cessation.

Methods: Health-related news stories and Internet search queries were aggregated to form a continuous and real-time data stream. We monitored daily news coverage of and Internet search queries for cessation in seven Latin American nations from 2006 to 2011.

Results: Cessation news coverage peaked around WNTD, typically increasing 71% (95% confidence interval [CI] 61-81), ranging from 61% in Mexico to 83% in Venezuela. Queries indicative of cessation interest peaked on WNTD, increasing 40% (95% CI 32-48), ranging from 24% in Colombia to 84% in Venezuela. A doubling in cessation news coverage was associated with approximately a 50% increase in cessation queries. To gain a practical perspective, we compared WNTD-related activity with New Year's Day and several cigarette excise tax increases in Mexico. Cessation queries around WNTD were typically greater than New Year's Day and approximated a 2.8% (95% CI -0.8 to 6.3) increase in cigarette excise taxes.

Conclusions: This novel evaluation suggests WNTD had a significant impact on popular awareness (media trends) and individual interest (query trends) in smoking cessation. Because WNTD is constantly evolving, our work is also a model for real-time surveillance and potential improvement in WNTD and similar initiatives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Awareness
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Latin America
  • Nicotiana*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Taxes