UN health agency enlists volleyball federation in effort to rid sport of

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today announced that volleyball has become the latest sport to ban tobacco products and advertising as part of the agency’s campaign against the potentially deadly substance. Tobacco Free Volleyball will join forces with Tobacco Free Football and the Tobacco Free Olympics as part of the worldwide movement to rid sport of all association with tobacco, WHO said. The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) will formally join the agency’s Tobacco Free Sports Initiative on Friday. Friday’s date – 31 May – is commemorated annually as World No Tobacco Day, and this year it coincides with the start of the world’s first Tobacco Free World Cup in the Republic of Korea and Japan. WHO said the anti-smoking message will be spread across the world through World Cup television public service announcements as well as signs and posters in the stadiums. “Sports and tobacco do not mix,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland. Hailing organized volleyball’s support for the public health initiative, she said, “By going tobacco free, sports federations, teams, organizers and athletes are ending the positive associations between sport and tobacco and delivering the message that tobacco kills.” FIVB President Rubén Acosta said the popular sport would contribute to this effort. “We are confident that our major international competitions in Volleyballand Beach Volleyball, and particularly our 2002 World Championships, have the power and the means to help spread the message that the use of tobacco and its health risks are completely incompatible with sport,” he said. Noting that millions of people around the world enjoy volleyball, he stressed the importance of joining forces with WHO to “make sure those people hear and understand the tobacco-free message.” The WHO campaign comes in response to widespread advertising of tobacco products at athletic meets. According to the agency in the United States alone major domestic cigarette companies reported spending $113.6 million on sports and sporting events in 1999. read more