SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente, Xenia von Wedel

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Game on for Millions of Smokers Across EU as European Commission and FC Barcelona Launch 'Quit Smoking With Barça'

BARCELONA, December 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

- Pioneering campaign focuses on benefits of becoming an ex-smoker

- Smokers to receive personalised advice from Barça stars

From today, smokers across Europe will be able to 'Quit Smoking with Barça' as a unique public health programme goes live.

     (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121201/580157 )

The campaign, a joint initiative of the European Commission and FC Barcelona uses a unique, science-based approach to help those who love life, Barça and football to quit smoking for good.

The latest innovation of the European Commission's successful "Ex-Smokers are Unstoppable" campaign that has run across the 27 EU countries for the past two years, 'Quit Smoking with Barça' (quitsmokingwithbarca.eu) is powered by the 'FCB iCoach', a free, dedicated online resource and mobile app that provides tailored guidance and support straight from the mouths of Barça players, coaches and staff.

Building on the success of "Ex-Smokers are Unstoppable" (exsmokers.eu) and harnessing the support of Barça's millions of fans, this unprecedented partnership between a sporting institution and the European Commission can help many more of Europe's 140 million smokers tokick the habit forever.

'Quit Smoking with Barça' is built around the FCB iCoach - a personal health coaching programme. When a smoker registers,  he or she completes a short questionnaire that determines the type of coaching  needed to  quit. Based on the answers, the individual receives personalised tips, information and motivation directly from Barça players, coaches and staff. The club's four captains: Carles Puyol, Andres Iniesta, Victor Valdes and Xavi are among those offering advice as are President Sandro Rosell, coach Tito Villanova, Guilermo Amor, and other club experts.

Speaking at a press conference at Camp Nou ahead of Barça's La Liga game v Athletic Bilbao, FC Barcelona President Rosell called on football fans across Europe to get involved: "At Barça we have the best fans in the world and we want to take care of them. Our motto 'Més que un club' means we're committed to a philosophy that should be evident in all we do. We always act with a social consciousness and another way for us to do this is to stand side by side with the European Commission as we launch 'Quit Smoking with Barça'. Making our facilities and our stadium smoke-free was an important milestone and the next one is today - the launch of the FCB iCoach. When you sign up to the FCB iCoach, the whole club will support you every step of the way giving you the expert knowledge of people within the club to help you in your fight to quit cigarettes for good. We want all smokers to consider quitting. If you can commit to trying we can commit to standing by your side every step of the way on your journey to a smoke-free life. There has never been a better time to quit than now".

A major catalyst for the European Commission and Barça working together was their shared commitment to protecting people's health, says Director-General for Health and Consumers in the European Commission, Paola Testori Coggi: "I'm proud to be here today announcing the next phase in the European Commission's mission to create a smoke-free Europe. I'm delighted that the success of our award-winning "Ex-Smokers are Unstoppable" campaign has led to collaboration with such a prestigious institution of world sport. Nearly 300,000 Europeans are currently trying to quit with iCoach. We hope that the experience, tools and lessons gathered from our extensive experience of anti-tobacco initiatives, combined with the status of Barça, can inspire even more people to live a smoke-free life."

Fan Support

To mark the launch of the campaign, a team of 11 Barça fans from different EU countries have been chosen to become the first people from their nation to sign-up to the FCB iCoach. The 11 'Quit Smoking with Barça' Fans will tonight be guests of honour at the Barça v Bilbao game where they'll carry onto the pitch a campaign flag while a video is played in the stadium to encourage smokers within the Nou Camp to join the campaign.

Speaking of their pride at being the first Barça fan to sign up to the FCB iCoach, Michael said: "It's been so exciting and so inspiring to be part of this campaign. I love Barça so it's a huge honour to be here today as an ambassador for this campaign. I know quitting smoking is one of the toughest things you can do, I've tried many times with little success. I hope this time I can do it for good. Having the support of my heroes behind me could make all the difference to me achieving my dream of a smoke free life."

To find out more about 'Quit Smoking with Barça' and the FCB iCoach visit http://www.quitsmokingwithbarca.eu    

Further Information:

The "Quit Smoking with Barça" campaign

http://www.quitsmokingwithbarca.eu

The "Ex-Smokers are Unstoppable" campaign

http://www.exsmokers.eu

The official homepage of FC Barcelona

http://www.fcbarcelona.com

'Quit Smoking with Barça'  is a joint commitment between FC Barcelona and the European Commission to take a stand against smoking and the nearly 700,000 preventable deaths caused by tobacco in Europe each year. Harnessing the power of the European Commission's "Ex-Smokers are Unstoppable" campaign and Barcelona's 'Sense Fum'  initiative, the campaign will encourage and support the 28 million smokers* across Europe in the 25-34 year old age group to kick the habit and become unstoppable ex-smokers for life (http://www.quitsmokingwithbarca.eu).

iCoach (http://www.exsmokers.eu) is a free, proven digital health tool already helping nearly 300,000 people across Europe in their quest to give up smoking for good. iCoach is available from today as an app for both for iPhone and Android (http://www.exsmokers.eu/mobile).

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