Football fans who will want to attend the Euro 2012 football championship in Poland and Ukraine next summer will have to choose between watching their favourite sport or… smoking. UEFA’s decision announced this week enforces a complete ban on the use, sale or promotion of tobacco in all stadia involved in the tournament. The regulation will apply without exception to all spaces within stadia perimeters, both indoors and outdoors.
This tobacco-free policy – developed in cooperation with WHO – has one main goal: to send a strong message to football’s fans everywhere, reaffirming the link between sport and good health. Promoting healthy lifestyles through football is a core theme of UEFA Football and Social Responsibility activities, which use football to help get a handle on some of Europe’s top health, social and environmental problems.
A strong position of sports stadia to develop initiatives aimed at influencing healthier lifestyles can set standards for other sporting events around the continent. EuroHealthNet welcomes this initiative and hope it will bring broader health-related information (food and beverage sales, physical activity, mental health “green” transport and sexual health) in the context of stadia working practices relating to corporate and social responsibility.
Already, in the context of the programme set up by the European Commission “European Healthy Stadia”, smoking was identified as still being a key health issue, despite the current prevalence of smoke free legislation in many parts of Europe, with only 55% of stadia currently having a smoke free policy.
Tobacco use contributes to the deaths of some 650.000 European Union (EU) citizens a year, including thousands who never smoked but had to breathe the smoke from others. In the country hosting the Euro 2012, Ukraine, smoking rates among Ukrainian men were among the highest in the world until the country took measures to control tobacco use in recent years.
Football and sport is about health and performance, and tobacco is about the opposite: they just don’t mix. Tobacco-free in all stadia is the best piece of news we could get. All, fans and spectators will enjoy a major sport event.