WHO Honours 15-Year Old Japanese Boy for Creating Smoke-Free Streets World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2008

2008-05-30 14:58 945

MANILA, May 30 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- The World Health Organization (WHO) today presented a World No Tobacco Day Award to a 15-year old Japanese boy for his relentless efforts to keep the streets of his city smoke free. Yuhta Ohishi started his tobacco-control advocacy efforts at the age of 10, when he developed severe asthma from inhaling second-hand smoke from walking in his neighbourhood.

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He studied the effects of tobacco on health and started writing reports and petitions to city officials, encouraging them to regulate smoking in public places. Initially, he was ostracized by the local community, but he persisted and later got public support until the local regulations were changed. Today, smoking is banned on the streets of Shizuoka.

"Yuhta is an inspiration to young people as well as to adults," said Dr Shigeru Omi, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. "He has taken a stand to help free his world from the hazardous substance that is responsible for the death of two people every minute in the Western Pacific Region. To successfully curb the tobacco epidemic, it is critical that we involve young people in a movement for change."

Yuhta received the Regional Directors Award for World No Tobacco as well as the Director-General's Special Recognition Certificate.

In a statement to mark World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, WHO said the tobacco industry preys on the vulnerability of young people, knowing they underestimate the risk of becoming addicted to nicotine and the habit's tragic health consequences.

Other World No Tobacco prize winners in the Western Pacific Region were:

Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH), for its outstanding effort in advocacy for passage of the Tobacco Control Law in Cambodia. Since its establishment in 2006, CMH has mobilized multi-sector support for tobacco control, launched a Smoke Free Environment campaign in schools and is monitoring the tobacco industry's marketing activities targeting young people.

Mr Ding Xiangyang, Vice Mayor of Beijing Municipality, for his outstanding leadership and personal commitment in making public and work places smoke free in Beijing since 1995, particularly for the newly revised regulations covering public places, which this May set an example for the rest of the country.

Smoke-Free Luang Prabang, Lao People's Democratic Republic, for its tobacco- control advocacy effort in making Luang Prabang smoke-free and setting a good example of implementing Article 8 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in the country. Article 8 calls for the protection of nonsmokers from second hand smoke in public places.

Hanoi School of Public Health, Viet Nam, for its evidence-based tobacco control research in informing policy changes in the country and demonstrating how a smoke-free university can be achieved with the active participation of all faculty and students.

For more information, please contact Dr Susan Mercado, WHO Regional Coordinator for the Tobacco Free Initiative, at (63 2) 528 9894; mobile (63) 928 501 0241 or email:

Source: WHO China