Anti-tobacco campaign to target 2002 sports events

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

campaign.



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

tobacco.



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

Olympics.'



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.



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