Ireland soccer goalkeeper Emma Byrne joined Irish rugby captain Fiona Coughlan to celebrate ‘World No Smoking Day’ last week by officially announcing that the Aviva Stadium will operate a ‘no smoking’ policy for all sporting fixtures and concerts.
The policy also covers half-time and/or intervals as fans will not be allowed to leave and return to the stadium at any time during the duration of an event to smoke.
Bill Enright, Aviva Stadium Operations Manager, said that the policy went further than the legislation on smoking that had come into effect in 2004 by including the fact that fans would not be in a position to go outside to smoke at any time during an event.
“We very much want to promote public health here at the Aviva Stadium. Ireland was one of the first countries in the world to introduce a workplace smoking ban in 2004 with tremendous success,” he said.
“In general terms, a sporting fixture or concert lasts the same time as a film or a medium haul flight and whilst we understand that certain smokers may find this a challenge, we feel that it supports a safer, healthier and more enjoyable event for all.”
The Aviva Stadium’s smoking policy is just one of a number of initiatives taking place at the stadium with regard to supporting health promotion amongst spectators attending an event as well as staff members working at the stadium.
Based on its initiatives, the Aviva Stadium has become a member of the European Healthy Stadia Programme. The European Healthy Stadia Programme is sponsored by the World Heart Federation and UEFA.
Aine Brady TD, the Minister for Older People and Health Promotion, congratulated the Aviva Stadium on their involvement with the European Healthy Stadia Programme.
She noted that the stadium is not only encouraging patrons to refrain from smoking, but is also actively communicating with both spectators and staff regarding the option to quit smoking and linking in with the National ‘Give Up Smoking’ campaign.
She went on to say that ‘the focus on prevention and promotion to quit smoking is critical.’ In Ireland, 29% of people smoke and 7,000 people die from smoking related disease.
Most significantly, from a health promotion perspective, smoking is the single most important preventable cause of illness and death.
“A worrying trend is the increase in smoking amongst young people, in particular young girls,” she added.
“The recent Health Behaviour in School Children survey found that 23% of boys aged 15-17 and 28% of girls aged 15-17 reported that they are current smokers. The most important way to stop the pandemic of smoking is to stop the influx of new smokers, i.e. teenagers.
“It has been found that teenagers who engage in physical activity and sport are less likely to smoke.
“Therefore the involvement and engagement of both the IRFU and FAI in promoting a smoke free environment is very powerful.”