We’re all looking forward to Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games next year – those of us working on Scotland’s health particularly so.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games provide an excellent opportunity to boost Glasgow’s health, but as the Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee point out, the anticipated health legacy will not appear automatically and must be won through good planning and real ambition and commitment.
The high smoking rates throughout Glasgow and the West of Scotland have a huge impact on both public health and social inequality in the area. In response the Games can present positive alternatives, with athletes providing ready role models for healthy lifestyles.
Attending the Games events should be an affirmative experience, and a positive legacy will depend upon the games motivating people to aspire to healthier lives. The 2008 Olympics in Beijing took up this challenge and committed to being smoke-free. Sadly last year’s London Olympics failed to follow their lead, and were criticised by the national and international health community for a piecemeal and muddled approach that fell short of a gold standard.
Smoking areas do not sit well with the ethos of the Commonwealth Games. To show real commitment to a significant health legacy the organisers must commit to smoke-free Games. That’s why we are calling on the Organising Committee to commit to a fully smoke-free Commonwealth Games – replacing plans for smoking areas with facilities to offer support to those addicted to tobacco, using the ticketing information and advertising spaces to promote stop-smoking messages and supporting athletes in the role of healthy role models.
Watch this space.