“Smoke-free” Games a real step forward for children and families Reply

I was very pleased to hear that the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will be “smoke-free” – and great to hear the organisers enthusiastically proclaiming “the most progressive smoking policy at any major sporting event held in Scotland”.

As ASH Scotland has asserted again and again in recent months, Scotland’s Commonwealth Games present a unique opportunity to profile healthy lives and positive choices. There is no place for tobacco here.

I am aware that there has been much negotiation behind the scenes, with Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board, Health Scotland and our own Government Ministers joining ASH Scotland in pressing for a strong tobacco policy. Many thanks are also due to ASH Scotland supporters, and to colleagues in 16 Commonwealth countries, who added their voices In support.

What we’ve ended up with is a great improvement on the tobacco policy of the London Olympics, which provided smoking areas and had a haphazard approach to public Information. Given the positive tone adopted by the organisers in their announcement our Chief Executive was able to say in response:

“These Games have the potential to inspire young people to be the best that they can be. I warmly welcome the announcement that the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games will be smoke-free for children and families. This takes forward the national vision in Scotland to put tobacco, an addictive and lethal product, completely out of fashion for the next generation.”

Yet while the “smoke-free” policy for the Games is very welcome it is not the end of the story.

There will be no tobacco sales or promotions in any venue and legislation banning smoking in indoor public areas will be respected. We should take that for granted.

There will be no outdoor smoking areas for the public – ensuring that all spectators attending the events will have a smoke-free experience. This was our main call, with a particular desire that children should have a smoke-free sports event. Surely something that the Games partners at UNICEF will appreciate, and we are delighted to see it.

What prevents the Games from achieving the real gold standard is that there will be “discrete” smoking areas for staff and volunteers and in the competitors village.  This does fall short of our campaign call, and of the standard set at the 2010 Games in Delhi and the 2012 European football championships.

Still, the intentions are good and the tone is positive and committed. The organisers do seem to have bought into the ethos that being smoke-free enhances the Games and this now sets the benchmark that future events have to meet and to beat. Then these mega sporting events can truly play their part in bringing about a generation free from tobacco.

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