The biggest sports events of next year will be the focus for a
major PR campaign against tobacco advertising and sponsorship.
Following extensive public affairs work, the World Health Organisation
has teamed up with some of sport's most influential bodies for the
So far, the Geneva-based health campaigner has signed up the
International Olympic Committee, Formula 1 body the Federation
Internationale de L'Automobile Association (FIA) and football body FIFA
to help the campaign.
Called the Tobacco Free Sports campaign, the aim is to create a global
policy to ban all promotion, advertising and sponsorship involving
The campaign starts in February at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake
City, where the IOC will be promoting the importance of keeping tobacco
sponsorship out of sport.
IOC PRO Emmanuelle Moreau said: 'We pride ourselves on being
tobacco-free while other sporting events allow it. Tobacco has no place
in sport and that will certainly be the message we will be helping the
WHO to give out at next year's event.'
Next year's football World Cup, organised by FIFA, will also be free of
tobacco sponsorship and Formula 1's FIA is seeking to end tobacco's
involvement in the sport by 2006.
The WHO campaign will be handled in-house by its Non Communicable and
Mental Health communications team, based in Geneva, and led by head of
communications Chitra Subramaniam.
WHO information officer Reshma Prakash said: 'We need to gain
international coverage and using these sporting events will
significantly help that.
We are anticipating a lot of media enquiries around the Winter
The campaign coincides with an existing WHO initiative to develop a
global strategy on tobacco control.
Called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, health officials
from 191 countries are involved in hammering out details on what could
be the first legally enforceable global treaty on tobacco control.
The WHO says voluntary codes on advertising, in place in the UK, US and
other countries, do not work.
The body has particularly condemned a pledge announced earlier this year
by British American Tobacco, a major sponsor of Formula 1, not to direct
advertising at non-smokers and the young.
A BAT spokesperson said: 'We believe our marketing standards are a step
in the right direction.'
Lib Dem peer Lord Clement Jones is trying to ban tobacco advertising in
the UK through a private member's bill, which is making its way through
parliament but is unlikely to become law.