Keep Asian Games tobacco-free, say NGO
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) must keep the 2018 Asian Games, or the 18th ASIAD, free from tobacco sponsorships and promotions, say international and regional tobacco-control NGOs.
“The OCA should not allow their well-respected and globally recognized organization to be ‘used’ by the tobacco industry in their bid to promote their deadly products among the youth, by using a prestigious sporting event, such as the Asian Games,” SEATCA director Bungon Rithiphakdee said in a release made available to The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
“They must be consistent in maintaining the tobacco-free policy and ensuring that all sporting events continue to remain tobacco-free,” she went on.
The statements were made in a letter co-signed by eight other international organizations sent to the OCA president on Wednesday.
Announcing its interest in hosting the 18th ASIAD in Jakarta, Indonesia has said that a local Indonesian tobacco company is willing to sponsor the games.
“If a tobacco company is allowed to sponsor the games, this will present cross-border tobacco advertising issues in countries, especially in Asia, where tobacco advertising, promotions and sponsorships have been banned,” said Rithiphakdee.
Since 1988, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has had tobacco-free games. Both the SEA Games and Asian Games are completely tobacco free.
The IOC has signed a memorandum of understanding with the World Health Organization to promote healthy lifestyle choices, including physical activity, sports for all and tobacco-free Olympics.
“Governments and event organizers should be clear – tobacco and sports must never be mixed. Tobacco sponsorship sends the wrong message to young people – it should never be mixed with sporting events that should encourage and inspire healthy lifestyles,” Asia Pacific Heart Network president Mary Barry said.
“The Olympic Council of Asia and participating countries must protect youth by banning tobacco industry sponsorship at the Asian Games to ensure that this prestigious sporting event does not serve as another means for the tobacco industry to market its deadly products to global youth,” US-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids president Matthew L. Myers said. (ebf)
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