WHO Calls For Ban On Tobacco Sports Sponsorship

Jakarta, May 30: | Updated: May 31 2002, 05:30am hrs
The UN World Health Organisation on Thursday called on Asia to prohibit tobacco sponsorship of sports events after winning FIFA support to ban smoking at World Cup stadiums.

Mr Uton Muchtar Rafei, a WHO director for south and southeast Asia, told on the eve of the WHO-sponsored World No Tobacco Day that governments in the region, especially Indonesia, could do more to cut the supply of tobacco and deter new demand. If it can be done at the World Cup, it will be a good example for other cups, other sports, including the Olympics, said Mr Uton.

The theme of the World No Tobacco Day this year is Tobacco Free Sports-Play It Clean. WHO and FIFA have signed a memorandum of understanding to remove all forms of tobacco from all soccer events associated with the sports world governing body, starting from the World Cup in Japan and South Korea, countries where the smoking habit is widespread. In Japan, cigarette vending machines will be removed from stadiums or switched off for the duration of the tournament, but spectators will be allowed to puff in special smoking areas already provided by the stadiums. The World Cup kicks off on May 31, which is also World No Tobacco Day.

Mr Uton said Indonesia had one of the worst smoking records in the region in 2001 as 60 per cent of men aged over 15 smoked.