WHO supports Sochi initiative

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The World Health Organisation has welcomed Sochi 2014's decision to support a non–smoking policy during the next Winter Olympic Games.

It will make the Sochi Olympics the twelfth Olympic Games to be free from tobacco smoke, with a blanket ban that will protect daily over 155, 000 athletes, sports delegation representatives and volunteers from the harmful effects of smoking. The best lessons learned from other international events were recently discussed at a working meeting in the city of Sochi, attended by representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), international non–smoking foundations, the Administration of Sochi and Krasnodar region, and the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee. During the working meeting, those present assessed the efforts of Organizing Committees from past Games in the fight again smoking. In particular they looked at the example of Beijing, where, during the Summer Olympic Games of 2008 smoking was banned in restaurants and hotels connected to the Olympics, with hundreds of other sites voluntarily becoming no–smoking areas. A ban on smoking in taxis was also brought in especially for the Beijing Games, and came into effect in 2007. The organisers of the 2008 Games invested substantially into a public advertising campaign on the harm caused by passive smoking. The adverts were put up at bus–stops, in the metro and at airports. These measures were all seen to be successful and within a year after the Olympic Games, the level of tobacco consumption in Beijing had fallen by 1. 5%. The meeting set out a framework which states that all the Olympic venues in Sochi during the Games and all public areas without exception will become non–smoking territory. The only place that smoking will be permitted during the Games is in specially marked areas outside the Olympic and Paralympic venues, which have been designed to minimise the impact on those who do not smoke. There will also be a ban on smoking in the bars and restaurants situated in the Olympic Park. Visitors will be unable to purchase cigarettes in any of the Olympic venues, whilst during events the message of the Organizing Committee's anti–smoking policy will be broadcast on the scoreboard and over the radio. In addition, there will be a telephone number available for people to call if they wish to complain about people smoking in designated non–smoking areas. The participants of the meeting highlighted that although Russia joined the International Anti–Tobacco Convention in 1998, smoking is still a serious issue in a country with one of the worlds highest percentages of smokers, currently 44m people. It has been reported that each year approximately 500, 000 people die from smoking–related illnesses in Russia. The Sochi 2014 Organising Committee continues to work hard in ensuring that it hosts a Games in accordance with the sustainable development policy. They have focused on six key aspects, the foremost of which is a healthy lifestyle. To bring this to life, the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee have sought ways to popularise healthy lifestyles which would not be possible without a non–smoking policy. Sochi 2014 CEO and President, Dmitry Chernyshenko commented: It is very important that The World Health Organization has welcomed Sochi 2014s decision to support the non–smoking policy during the next Winter Olympic Games. There is a well known rhyme in Russia which says stop smoking, go skiing and I would like this philosophy to be adopted during the Sochi 2014 Winter Games. Our aim for these Games is not only to create a long lasting legacy in Russia that promotes the benefits of sport, but also to encourage citizens to live a healthy lifestyle and change their lives for the better. If as a result of this anti–smoking drive we can significantly reduce the number of Russians who smoke, then I will feel that Sochi 2014 will have made yet another vital contribution to bringing about transformative social change in our country.

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