Tobacco-free Stadia Guidance
Tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of premature death and chronic disease around the globe, mainly through heart disease and a wide range of cancers.
Second hand smoke
According to Healthy Stadia, there is indisputable scientific evidence demonstrating that exposure to ‘second-hand smoke’ (SHS) is also a direct cause of disease, disability and death, killing 80,000 people in Europe each year.
As Matthew Philpott, Director: European Healthy Stadia Network, explained, “There is no such thing as a ‘safe level of exposure’ to SHS. Just 30 minutes of exposure to SHS reduces blood flow to the heart in fit, healthy adults.”
As one can imagine then, children are especially at risk from the effects of SHS as their organs are still developing. Indeed, a quarter of all SHS related deaths are in children, though exposure to SHS can also trigger heart attack & stroke in people with underlying cardiovascular disease.
Smoking and Sport
There is now strong support for tobacco control policies in public areas – even amongst smokers themselves; an average of 70% of people in European countries do not smoke.
In 2005, the World Health Organization ratified a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which proved to be a pivotal moment for the evolution of tobacco control policies.
As a result, governments now have the legal instruments to prohibit smoking in public spaces e.g. workplaces, public transport – however, there exist considerable national variations in the application of tobacco legislation to public spaces, including stadia.
In 2014, Healthy Stadia conducted research, which showed that only 18 of 54 countries in Europe have robust smoke-free policies at football stadia.
Healthy Stadia’s position is that the social and ethical responsibility of clubs, stadia and national associations to protect the health and safety of fans and staff through policies eliminating second-hand smoke in stadia.
The organisation clearly sets out definitions of what can be expected of Stadia, and the benefits they can expect:
Minimum standard (smoke-free): Smoking is prohibited throughout the stadium environment, including all internal and external (seated) areas – applies to all stadium users.
Best practice (tobacco-free): Bans the sale and promotion of tobacco products; prohibits use of e-cigarettes and oral tobacco; makes no use of designated smoking areas (Gold Standard).
Benefits to stadium users and operators:
- Protects against the acute health dangers of exposure to SHS
- Reduces incidence of heart attack and stroke in stadia
- Minimises potential fire hazards presented by lit tobacco
- Minimises tobacco-related litter, and reduction of stadium cleaning costs and insurance costs
- Prevents the initiation of smoking amongst young people
- Maintains an environment that is helpful for smokers trying to quit
- Breaks links between sport, tobacco and ill health
To see this work in action, watch this video explaining how Republic of Ireland’s home the Aviva Stadium and Tallaght Stadium, Shamrock Rovers home ground, are promoting a no smoking policy within their Stadiums on match day.
Healthy Stadia has published a new guidance document to support clubs, stadium operators and associations in the implementation of tobacco control policies.
It is calling on national football associations without a tobacco control policy to consider adopting a minimum standard smoke-free policy that applies to all internal and external areas at their national stadium; and to those associations with an existing smoke-free policy at national stadium to consider upgrading their policy to a best-practice tobacco-free policy.
As UEFA’s RESPECT Your Health partner in the upcoming EURO 2016 tournament, Healthy Stadia intends to demonstrate a ‘gold Standard’ example: The EURO has been declared a ‘tobacco-free’ tournament, prohibiting use, sale and promotion of all tobacco and e-cigarette products.
The intention is now is that others have the tools, support and legal base to follow suit.
The above text is an adapted version of the presentation that Healthy Stadia and the Republic of Ireland FA gave at a recent UEFA football and social responsibility workshop for member associations.