The 2014 Commonwealth Games provide an excellent opportunity to boost Glasgow’s health, but as the Scottish Parliament’s health and sport committee points out (your report, 16 January), the anticipated health legacy will not appear automatically but must be won through good planning and real ambition and commitment. The high smoking rates throughout Glasgow and the West of Scotland have a huge impact on both public health and social inequality in the area. In response, the Games can present positive alternatives, with athletes providing ready role models for healthy lifestyles.
Attending the Games events should be an affirmative experience, and a positive legacy will depend upon the games motivating people to aspire to healthier lives. The 2008 Olympics in Beijing took up this challenge and committed to being smoke free. Sadly, last year’s London Olympics failed to follow their lead, and were criticised by the national and international health community for a piecemeal and muddled approach that fell short of a gold standard.
Smoking areas do not sit well with the ethos of the Commonwealth Games. For the health legacy to be meaningful, the organisers must commit to smoke-free Games, offering support to those addicted to tobacco, and creating a positive vision for health that will continue to deliver well beyond the Games.