From the Vault: PPI – Cyprus Says “NO” to Smoking

Almost 4 years ago, on October 10, 2009, PPI – Cyprus completed their participation in the E.U.’s “Help Campaign for a Life without Tobacco” with a bi-communal basketball event at Agios Dometios High School in the Greek-Cypriot community. Here is their blog from the event:
Teams from Agros, Agios Antonios, Lapta/Lapithos, and Famagusta were in attendance.

Teams from Agros, Agios Antonios, Lapta/Lapithos, and Famagusta were in attendance.

For the past two weeks, all PPI – CY teams completed smoking questionnaires designed to gather information about teen smoking in Cyprus. PPI – CY’s volunteer extraordinaire Mateo Ajjarin designed the survey, translated it (along with first-time volunteer Duyal Eresen, the cousin of PPI – CY’s Turkish-Cypriot Coordinator Orhun Mevlit), and gathered the data into presentable tables, graphs, and pie charts. Some of the most important facts that we were able to deduce from the survey results were:
  • An overwelming majority of PPI – CY participants do no smoke, nor have they ever tried to start.
  • Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots alike are well aware of the the risks associated with smoking (i.e. cancer, heart disease, death, etc).
  • A significant portion of all participants lead very active lives in addition to their participation with PeacePlayers International.
PPI – CY teams completed surveys in the weeks leading up to the event.

PPI – CY teams completed surveys in the weeks leading up to the event.

These findings are significant, first, because many of the participants’ friends and family members do smoke cigarettes. The fact that these children have chosen the healthy path is a great achievement in Cyprus. Second, the survey also revealed one of the most basic – and overlooked – facts of life in Cyprus: that Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot youth experience the same challenges with tobacco that their friends in the opposite community experience.  It’s very simple fact: Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriots are more alike than they think.

Herodotos Herodotou, a Health Officer at the Ministry who attended the event, told the children, “I can see that you are all fine athletes and some of you are dreaming to become champions. Well, championships and smoking are two opposite forces. If you smoke, you can never become a champion.”

The blazing sun in Cyprus couldn't stop these girls from playing some serious basketball after the day's presentations.

The blazing sun in Cyprus couldn’t stop these girls from playing some serious basketball after the day’s presentations.

In addition to briefing PPI – CY on the Ministry’s on-going actions to offset teen smoking across Cyprus, Herodotou praised the children in attendance for saying “‘No’ to smoking, ‘No’ to cancer, and ‘No’ to heart disease.” After the speeches and the presentation of the data to the teams, everyone in attendance was split up into mixed teams and the games began.

The E.U.’s “Help Campaign For a Life without Tobacco” embodies everything that PPI – CY strives to accomplish: educating Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot children on how to live a healthy life, on and off the basketball court, together.

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