In an effort to promote good health and to follow their “smoking-free Games” strategy, the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee installed a “No smoking” sign in the Olympic Park on March 30th. With the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), Sochi will be the twelfth consecutive Olympic Games to be free of cigarette smoke. More than 155,000 athletes, sports delegation representatives and volunteers will be protected every day by this policy.
It was a ceremonious event when the head of the WHO representative office in Russia, Mr. Luigi Migliorini personally placed the official sign when he was visiting the Olympic venues, still under construction. He also attended a seminar on sustainable development entitled “Managing tobacco denial and the creation of smoke free medical institutions,” a discussion of the most effective actions and methods to deter smoking during the upcoming Games.
Smoking will be prohibited at all Olympic and Paralympic venues. There will be designated smoking areas are strategically placed outside the territory so as not to discomfort non-smoking guests and participants. Smoking will also be banned in all bars and restaurants in Olympic Park. No tobacco will be sold in any of the Olympic venues, and the Organizing Committee’s no-smoking policy will be broadcast throughout the events.
During his seminar, WHO representative Migliorini emphasized his commitment to the smoking-ban and praised the significant progress in Sochi’s anti-smoking legislation, specifically citing the improvements at medical institutions in the Krasnodar region.
Smoking tobacco has been prohibited since the Calgary Olympiad in 1988. Since then, Olympic organizers take an active role in deterring the habit. In Turin in 2006, they spread leaflets explaining the harmful effects in four languages. Posters were hung in schools, and journalists were given media kits on the subject. In 2008 in Bejing, the ban on smoking in taxis was passed specifically for the Games and came into effect in 2007. Hundreds of establishments changed their policies voluntarily.
Despite being in a country with one of the highest smoking populations in the world, Sochi has made great strides in encouraging healthy lifestyles and sustainable development principles. Based on WHO data, 44 million Russians smoke, and up to half a million die each year from complications connected to their habit. With this level of dedication by the Olympic Organizing Committee, the WHO, and the Russian people, there is hope that number may soon change.