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Two Days in Belarus under the Slogan Quit Smoking Breathe Freely!

The residents of Belarusian cities became witnesses to unusual actions on the last days of spring. On May 30–31, everyone who wished to do so had an opportunity not only to quit smoking, but also to get a reward for doing it – a t–shirt with the picture of a green tree and with the slogan of the action “Breathe Freely!"

The action started on May 30 near the National Library – competitions for professional and amateur bicyclists took place there. About 40 Belarusian “bikers” took part in it, and a participant from Latvia and another one from the USA also registered.

The marathon was held by the famous sports commentator Artashes Antonian, who said “It is an honor to participate in an action of this kind, because there is nothing more important than a healthy lifestyle. Personally, I do not smoke, and I do not recommend smoking to anyone. Take up bicycling – that way you’ll make much better use of your lungs. And it does not matter in the least whether you are an amateur orprofessional – sports, among other things, are great fun!"

In the recreation parks of Minsk, Hrodna, Homiel, Vitsebsk, and Mahiliou, sports and entertainment events took place: information booths were set up where one could get advice related to tobacco–smoking issues; thematic quizzes, mini–football, tug–of–war, darts, and arm–wrestling competitions were held. The programme of sports activities in the cities also included some contests that are not on the official list of world championships, for example, a contest called “Measure your lungs capacity by inflating a balloon in 30 seconds”. During the action, mobile pulmoscanners operated in regional capitals, where everyone who wished to do so could get an x–ray taken.

On May 31, the residents of the capital could see a promotional bus with the slogan "I Can Stop Tuberculosis!" drive along the central streets. A team of volunteers from the Belarusian Red Cross Society was distributing leaflets that urged people to quit smoking, persuading people to throw out cigarettes into garbage bins at bus stops, and unrolled a poster that read “Quit Smoking – Breathe Freely!" Bus No. 515 with the slogan “I Can Stop Tuberculosis!” on its sides is now back on its normal route. A similar bus has also appeared in Homiel these days.

World No–Tobacco Day was proclaimed by the World Health Organization in 1988, and is traditionally marked on May 31 in order to draw public attention to the problem of smoking and to the disorders associated with this harmful habit. It is officially recognized that smoking is associated with such dangerous ailments as cardio–vascular disease, the diseases of respiratory organs, and oncological diseases. According to the World Health Organization, more than eight million people develop active tuberculosis every year, and approximately two million people die from this disease.

The action “Breathe Freely!" is a part of the information campaign “I Can Stop Tuberculosis!” that is held in Belarus within the framework of the grant of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria entitled “Support of the National Programme “Tuberculosis” in the Republic of Belarus” and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in cooperation with the Ministry of Health. The Belarusian Red Cross Society was the organizer of the action.

For additional information, please contact Maria Malinovskaya, Public Relations Specialist at the press–service of the Global Fund grants in Belarus at 017–299–0787 or029–164–2356, orthe press–service of the Belarusian Red Cross Society at +375–17–227–6682, +375–029–116–3021, +375–29–620–7879.

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