Brazil’s National No Tobacco Day is celebrated every August 29 and aims to raise the population’s awareness on the risks of tobacco consumption, since smoking is a major public health problem, classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the leading cause of avoidable death on the planet.

As a result of a partnership between the Center for Studies on Tobacco and Health (CETAB) of the National School of Public Health (ENSP/FIOCRUZ) and ACT Health Promotion, the book Hoarse and Suffocated (Roucos e Sufocados) was launched on the morning of No Tobacco Day. The event was held at the Foundation for Scientific and Technological Development in Health (FIOTEC).

The idea for the book

The book was written by journalists João Peres and Moriti Neto, inspired by court action taken against the tobacco industry by the Office of the Public Prosecutor in the state of Paraná. Various complaints of labor violations, especially involving child labor, led to a series of newspaper articles and later the book. Brazil is the world’s second leading tobacco producer, involving more than 150 thousand families in some 700 municipalities, especially in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná, and Santa Catarina. An estimated 80 thousand children in the South of Brazil work in the tobacco industry. Aware of this, the journalists traveled to Paraná where the complaint had been filed in 2011 to perform a background investigation. Three years later, in 2015, as the number of complaints grew, they made a second trip, this time to the Rio Pardo Valley in Rio Grande do Sul, the largest tobacco-growing area in Brazil and the source of the discourse for the pro-cigarette lobby. The journalists’ previous research had proven insufficient, since the subject was considered endless and each new investigation unearthed new issues. According to Moriti, this was how the idea for the book was born, as the result of exhaustive investigative journalism.

The various news stories leading up to the book, published by the  Elefante publishing house, featured “Smokescreen for Nicotine Addiction”  (“Sob a fumaça a dependência”), published by the Agência Pública news agency for investigative journalism in 2015. The story received an honorable mention from the Brazilian National Association of Labor Judges (ANAMATRA).

Hoarse and Suffocated does not criticize smokers, but aims to use accessible language to show how cigarettes are hazardous to health, besides causing other harms such as the equivalent of slave labor, human rights violations, and exploitation of child labor. Highlighting such disadvantages, the book provides food for thought on the harms of tobacco consumption.

To purchase the book, click here.

*With information from the FIOCRUZ Portal