Monday, January 25, 2010

'Snow Job' on Smoke-Free Winter Olympics

In recent months, the organizers of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games have promised the competition would be a smoke-free world event. Now, it seems, at the request of a few VIP smokestacks, the health-promoting policy has been suddenly changed, and 25 smoking areas will be established at the Games. These designated areas will be for high-ranking officials only, not spectators, who must exit the security perimeter to light up.

Some are criticizing the treatment of paying spectators as second-class citizens by reserving the privilege of toxic tobacco self-pollution (without leaving the premises) exclusively for the "special people." But the bigger issue is the fact that the organizers reneged on what was touted as the first completely smoke-free Olympics.

Why did they back down? The answer: because “it was requested.” Big whoop. I say stick to your non-smoking guns. Most states in the U.S. are smoke free, as are scores of major cities around the world. And more than 20 entire countries have committed themselves to disease prevention by doing the same.

Hello, is this the Vancouver Olympic Games? I’m “requesting” that you send a message to the world that smoke-free is the new norm. These are the World Games, the smoke-free World Games (or so we had been led to believe). It has been proven all over the world that people, even important people, will get used to it. They may even like the clean air.

David Zauche
Managing Senior Fellow and Senior Program Officer
Partnership for Prevention


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