Geneva: Freeing tobacco from sports has been one of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) main campaigns in recent years. It now seems to be scoring some great points, as FIFA has announced that the World Cup will be tobacco free. Clearing sports stadiums of smoke is being seen as a major victory over the tobacco industry. Chitra Subramanyam Duella, Director, Tobacco Free Initiative, WHO, said, "Children are starting to smoke during the World Cup simply because they see so much of it. So we have teamed up with FIFA and this is the first time that the games beginning in Korea will be tobacco free. The good thing is that the games kick off on May 31 and that's also 'World No Tobacco Day'. So it's really a fantastic coming together of sports and WHO's interests to start clearing more and more space, getting tobacco out of stadiums, schools and out of settings where the youth generally hang out." The statistics on smoking are staggering. According to the WHO, one in every two tobacco users dies of tobacco-related diseases. Ten million people are expected to die due to tobacco abuse in the next two decades and 70 per cent of these deaths will take place in developing countries such as India and China. Legislation is being increasingly seen as the way forward. "The framework 'Convention of Tobacco Control', which is the world's first public health treaty is looking at using legal options, using law as a public health tool with actually developing an entire body of law using WHO's Constitution. It allows us to develop a treaty to clear space for public health," explained Chitra. It's been a long and difficult road for the WHO ever since it launched it's anti-tobacco campaign four years back. But it's been a road worth taking, simply because it's managed to bring into sharp public focus what could be described as our century's most dangerous lifestyle disease.
Topics : Football