No smoking allowed at World Cup

No smoking will be allowed in the hosting cities for the duration of the Soccer World Cup, deputy health MEC Aaron Modsembeki announced.

"We want to show the world that we are taking a strong stance against smoking," said Modsembeki at a media conference in Cape Town yesterday. "People can have fun and support their teams without cigarettes."

No smoking of tobacco products will be allowed in the host cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, Nelspruit, Tshwane, Rustenburg, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane from 10 June to 7 July this year.  

According to Modsembeki, all visitors to any of the soccer stadiums will have to undergo a smokalyser test to determine whether they have been smoke-free for 24 hours. "People found to have been smoking will be fined."

When asked how the department plans to enforce this regulation, Modsembeki commented that the 23,000 volunteers already recruited for the World Cup will also be used as "smoke detectors", and will be authorised to fine anyone caught violating the new smoking regulation. He says the department of health is also in discussion with the SAPS about bringing the police force on board with this project, and all World Cup personnel will be briefed about this regulation.

Modsembeki argued that smoking is a very serious health risk, killing five million people worldwide every year. "For a month the world's eyes will be on us. Using the Soccer World Cup as a platform to create awareness of the dangers of smoking could save millions of lives," said Modsembeki.

This exercise will provide the department with valuable information that may help with the development and roll-out of future legislation around smoking, said Modsembeki. – (SLAAPA, Health23, April 2010)

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