No tobacco at EURO 2012
Copenhagen, 20 October 2011
The 14th Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) European Football Championship (EURO 2012) will be totally tobacco free. UEFA’s decision to ban tobacco from the world’s third largest sporting event sends a strong message to football fans everywhere, reaffirming the link between football and good health.
UEFA will enforce a complete ban on the use, sale or promotion of tobacco in all stadia involved in the tournament. The regulation will apply without exception to all spaces within stadia perimeters, both indoors and outdoors. This tobacco-free policy was developed with the World Health Organization (WHO), World Heart Federation, European Healthy Stadia Network, local organizing committees in the host countries, Poland and Ukraine, and local health advocacy groups.
Tobacco use contributes to the deaths of some 650 000 European Union (EU) citizens a year, including thousands who never smoked but had to breathe the smoke from others. As policies ensuring smoke-free environments are becoming the norm around the world, more and more Europeans have come to expect clean air in public places.
“A tobacco-free EURO 2012 is about respecting the health of our spectators and everyone else involved in the tournament,” said UEFA President Michel Platini. “We uphold the highest standards of health, safety and comfort at our flagship tournament, and tobacco does not fit within them.”
“A tobacco-free EURO 2012 makes so much sense,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “Tobacco use kills and causes serious illnesses. This is a great example of what can be done within the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which is already scoring goals across Europe.”
Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, is delighted with UEFA’s decision and pointed out its potential for impact: “EURO 2012 will be a magnet for millions of spectators and fans; in addition, a tobacco-free EURO 2012 sets standards for other sporting events around the continent.”
Urging host cities to work with health advocates to ensure smoke-free public transport, restaurants and fan zones, she added: “Football and sport is about health and performance, and tobacco is about the opposite: they just don’t mix.”
The total ban on tobacco consumption, sale and promotion at UEFA EURO 2012 goes beyond local restrictions, and supports internationally accepted standards for smoke-free public spaces and bans on tobacco promotion. The Polish Minister of Health, Ewa Kopacz, explained their significance: “Tobacco use is an addiction that kills 60 000 Poles a year. Taking tobacco out of EURO 2012 doesn’t take the fun out of football; it just makes the tournament safer for all involved and helps Poland tackle one of its biggest health problems.”
She is convinced that a tobacco-free EURO 2012 will help build public support for measures in line with WHO recommendations that will help her country get tobacco use under control – a great legacy for the tournament.
Ukrainian health officials also welcome support from football: until the country took measures to control tobacco use in recent years, smoking rates among Ukrainian men were among the highest in the world. The Minister of Health, Oleksandr Anischenko, explained that, thanks to tobacco control policy, these sky-high rates have started to decline, but that tobacco is still a major cause of premature death and more should be done to control it: “Tobacco use is a big health tragedy and also a big cost to our economic productivity. We are grateful that EURO 2012 will help get this message across to the many Ukrainians who still smoke: with tobacco, we all lose.”
The total ban on tobacco consumption, sale and promotion at EURO 2012 is a natural outcome of UEFA’s commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles through football. This is a core theme of its Football and Social Responsibility activities, which use football to help get a handle on some of Europe’s top health, social and environmental problems.
For more information, please contact:
Viv Taylor Gee
WHO Regional Office for Europe
Tel.: + 45 39 17 12 31, + 45 22 72 36 91(mobile)
Programme Manager a.i., Tobacco Control
WHO Regional Office for Europe
Tel.: + 45 39 17 16 03, + 45 24 98 39 90 (mobile)