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Health Sponsorship Council WHO Smokefree Award

31 May 2002
Media Statement

Health Sponsorship Council receives 2002
WHO Smokefree Award

For immediate release

Associate Minister of Health, Hon Tariana Turia, says she is delighted that the World Health Organisation has acknowledged the work of New Zealand’s Health Sponsorship Council.

The WHO has announced that New Zealand’s Health Sponsorship Council is one of only five organisations or individuals in the Western Pacific region to be awarded the WHO’s Tobacco or Health Medal in 2002.

The award winners are:
New Zealand's Health Sponsorship Council – for replacing tobacco sponsorship of sport and for helping to promote tobacco-free sports.

Cambodia's national football team – for promoting tobacco-free sports and for not accepting tobacco sponsorship, a remarkable move in a country where tobacco advertising is highly lucrative and pervasive.

Kiribati Ministry of Health, Health Education Unit – for seeking to change the strong cultural use of tobacco, most notably in getting sports equipment to replace tobacco in the traditional gift exchange, mweaka.

Mr Zhang Faqiang, Deputy Administrator, State Sport General Administration of China – for efforts to institute tobacco control within China's sports administration and for his involvement in anti-smoking groups.

Mr Li Yongpo, Head Coach of China's national badminton team – for his ardent anti-smoking campaign that has reached into the team's training centres and for his refusal to participate in tobacco promotion.

"The award winners have tried to kick tobacco out of sports," said WHO's Western Pacific Regional Director Dr Shigeru Omi. "In doing so, they have made a contribution towards health."

The HSC was established in 1990, initially to replace tobacco sponsorship of sports and cultural events with positive health messages. More recently, as an agent for social change, it has promoted its Smokefree and Auahi Kore brands through sports events and clubs to influence attitudes about being smoke free. This complements the Government’s public health goal of promoting a Smokefree New Zealand.

It is expected that Dr Omi will present the medal and citation when he visits New Zealand in early July.

Hon Tariana Turia said, “We still have far too many people smoking in New Zealand, especially young people. Everyone who puts in effort to decrease smoking deserves to be acknowledged. I’m pleased the Ministry of Health nominated the Health Sponsorship Council. I congratulate them, and all the other people in the community who contribute to a decline in smoking.”

Previous recipients of the Tobacco or Health Medal include the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Helen Clark, Rt Hon Jenny Shipley, and Dr Murray Laugesen.


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