Today is World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) 2015, a global public health campaign marked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) annually on 31 May.
This day is intended to encourage abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption around the globe for 24 hours and draw attention to the widespread prevalence and negative health effects of tobacco use, which kills nearly six million people annually. 600,000 of these deaths are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. More information on the effects of tobacco use can be found on WHO’s website.
In New Zealand, WNTD is celebrated as World Smoke Free Day. The New Zealand Health Promotion Agency (HPA) recently launched the 'Stop before you start' campaign, which aims to increase resistance to tobacco among young adults aged 17 to 24, thereby increasing the prevalence of pro-smokefree and anti-tobacco attitudes.
As the Ministry of Health stated: “New Zealand has been at the forefront of tobacco control internationally for some time and has made steady progress in reducing smoking prevalence and tobacco consumption."
In order to support these efforts, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee for the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015 have ensured that all 52 matches of the competition will be smoke free, playing a dedicated announcement to that effect, as well as a clip produced by the HPA on the big screens at today’s matches.
FIFA was recently recognised for its no smoking policy during the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil, receiving an award from the Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine (SemFYC) during its Smokeless Week.
Efforts to create a healthier environment for spectators at FIFA events started in 1986, when advertising from tobacco-industry sponsors were no longer accepted. Later on, at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in the USA in 1999, we supported an anti-smoking campaign launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which in turn led to an international campaign on anti-smoking with the WHO in 2002. Since then, smoking in stadiums is banned at all official FIFA World Cup matches.
“As the organisers of largest single-sport tournament in the world, we have a duty to provide a healthy environment for spectators at the event, and to use our platform responsibly by raising awareness on the perils of smoking”, said FIFA Chief Medical Officer Prof. Jiri Dvorak.
Non-smoking regulations have been integrated into FIFA’s Stadium Code of Conduct and implemented in Brazil according to the WHO guidelines for tobacco-free mega events. These efforts will certainly continue as we move towards the 2018 FIFA World Cup 2018™ in Russia.