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Dutch football bodies unite in smoke-free drive

The Dutch Football Association (KNVB) has joined forces with the Eredivisie and Keuken Kampioen Divisie, the top two divisions of club football, to pledge that all stadia in the country will be smoke free from the start of the 2020-21 season.

This is the ultimate goal of rookvrijestadions.nl, a new platform created by the Eredivisie and Keuken Kampioen Divisie in partnership with all 34 professional clubs in the Netherlands, the KNVB and the Dutch Alliance for a Smoke-Free Society (Alliantie Nederland Rookvrij) – an initiative launched by the Dutch Heart Foundation (Hartstichting), Dutch Cancer Society (KWF Kankerbestrijding) and Dutch Lung Foundation (Longfonds).

At present Dutch national tobacco control legislation does not prohibit the use of tobacco products in open-air and semi-enclosed areas, which means that smoking is legal in the majority of sports stadia in the Netherlands.

The exceptions to this rule include Ajax’s Johan Cruijff ArenA (pictured) and Vitesse Arnhem’s Gelredome, which have been smoke-free since 2008, as they both have a retractable roof and are covered under different legislation. PSV Eindhoven’s Philips Stadion has also pledged to go smoke free from 2019-20.

Under the new drive, starting from next season, clubs that are not yet completely smoke free will actively discourage smoking. The KNVB added that the Netherlands’ amateur associations, which number around 3,000, will follow suit in 2025.

In a statement, the Eredivisie said: “Football supporters who go to a stadium to enjoy a match include smokers and non-smokers. We ask all smokers not to inflict their smoke on others who have no choice but to breathe it in. Passive smoking is a health hazard. Supporters are assigned specific seats in the stands and cannot choose to sit elsewhere.”

The campaign ties in with the Dutch Smoke-Free Generation movement, which wants children to grow up in a smoke-free environment. Smoking is now banned in public buildings and restaurants and has been for some time.

Matches played by the Netherlands national team and other representative teams are smoke free, an increasing number of amateur clubs are smoke free and professional clubs are creating more and more smoke-free areas.

The smoke free pledge covers all areas in a stadium. The Eredivisie added: “The Eredivisie and Keuken Kampioen Divisie are aware that it will be difficult to enforce the ban in certain parts of the stadiums, but will do everything they can to prepare for the new smoke-free policy during the coming season.”

To help implement this, the Healthy Stadia organisation has said it will work with partners in the Netherlands including the Eredivisie, Keuken Kampioen Divisie and KNVB to prepare a Dutch-language version of its Tobacco-Free Stadia Guidance to support the implementation of the league-wide No Smoking policy in all football stadia.

Image: Johan Cruijff ArenA