South Korea agrees to ban tobacco at World Cup: WHO

GENEVA, Reuters

South Korea has agreed that tobacco and related advertising will be banned at 2002 World Cup matches, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.

The United Nations health agency, which is heading a global campaign against tobacco, is still negotiating with World Cup co-hosts Japan, a WHO spokeswoman said.

WHO director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former Norwegian prime minister and medical doctor, and South Korean Foreign and Trade Minister Han Seung-soo will discuss the decision at a photo opportunity set for 1700GMT at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

“South Korea and WHO have come to an agreement to have the 2002 World Cup completely tobacco-free — no smoking, no advertising, etc,” WHO spokeswoman Daniela Bagozzi told a news briefing in Geneva.

“Japan is still in negotiations.”

WHO estimates that four million people worldwide die each year of tobacco-related illness, such as heart disease, cancer or lung disease.

It predicts that the toll will continue to rise, with more and more victims in poor countries, where big tobacco companies have concentrated their marketing.

The WHO said: “The eventual aim is to make all football matches everywhere tobacco-free events: free from tobacco sales, consumption, promotion and sponsorship.”

The 20002 World Cup finals kick off on May 31, 2002, which coincides with the annual World No Tobacco Day, launched a decade ago by the United Nations. The theme for WHO’s tobacco control campaign next year is Tobacco-Free Sports.