Groningen to be Netherlands' first smoke-free city

A large number of organizations, schools, child care institutions and sports clubs in Groningen are working together to make the city the first smoke-free city in the Netherlands. Their ultimate goal is to have no smokers in Groningen, and that no one in the city becomes sick due to smoking, initiator Robert van den Graaf said to RTL Nieuws.

Van der Graaf is an addiction doctor at Verslavingszorg Noord Nederland. He set up this project, Groningen Smoke Free, in November. "I work as an addiction doctor and it struck me how big the impact on young people is when adults smoke", he said to RTL. "Passive smoking is unhealthy, but seeing smoking is also unhealthy. We still do not realize well enough that children easily become addicted when they see others smoke. They think that it's normal behavior. Therefore my goal is for Groningen to be smoke free."

When exactly the city will be completely smoke-free is "hard to say", but Groningen is already well on its way. "We already have a number of non-smoking playgrounds. After the summer vacation, the university's main building won't allow smoking, and the UMCG hospital must be completely smoke free from 2019."

An increasing number of organizations are signing a covenant in which they agree to do everything they can to eliminate the cigarette from daily life. The municipality also singed the covenant in March. "As our network gets bigger, we try to inform the rest of the population to quit smoking." Van der Graaf said. "If organizations stop together, it becomes less taxing to become smoke-free and eventually we can come to a smoke-free generation."