As 'no smoking' becomes nearly standard in much of North America â€“ and the movement quickly picks up steam in Europe â€“ international trade shows held in Europe such as OutDoor, ispo and FIBO have held back instituting a smoking verbot because of international and cultural differences.
That changed in January when management of the ispo show in Munich, Germany, made a gesture toward a no-smoking policy in three of 14 halls at its winter show in February 2005. But left without enforcement or much publicity, and with many ash trays still scattered around the floor, not much changed. (See SNEWSÂ® story, Jan. 3, 2005, "Smoking tradition at European trade shows in flux, ispo announces limited non-smoking pilot.")
The FIBO fitness, wellness and leisure show in Essen, Germany, hasn't changed much at all, including at its May 2005 show, and has told SNEWSÂ® it can't because of possibly insulting other nationalities who view smoking differently.
OutDoor show raises no-smoking bar
But the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen raised the bar in July 2005 after its no-smoking debacle a year ago. In July 2004, its announcement of a smoking ban was called token by attendees since there were no signs, no newsletter reminders, no announcements and ashtrays remained on the floor.
This year show management had steel lids fashioned for all ashtray tops on the garbage cans to make them inaccessible, made announcements on the intercom, and had posters at hall entrances, albeit subtle ones.
"It's better for everybody, not just for the USA and Canada," said Herve Charbert, of Patagonia and a board member of the European Outdoor Group that owns the show. "It's a trend, and the trend won't stop."
That doesn't mean that everybody paid attention â€“ security guards were spied sitting at tables in the so-called environmental area at the opening night party -- at a table with a no-smoking sign, doing what? You guessed it. Smoking. Not only that, some overly efficient staff member had put ashtrays on all the tables. We hear EOG president Mark Held scurried about scooping up all the ashtrays.
"Whether it's been because there was an announcement or they took out the ashtrays, there has been less smoke in the halls, and that's a good thing," said Menno van Wyk, Montrail CEO, and an outspoken anti-smoking advocate. "We're moving in the right direction, and next year we will and should be smoke-free."
Ispo winter 2006 going a step farther
The bar will be raised another notch by ispo at the winter 2006 show, we are told, after the show did a no-smoking expansion at the smaller summer show in July. In February 2006, show management in Munich will institute a complete smoking ban in all of the B halls (outdoor, ski, and running mostly) and in the C-1 hall (fitness). That means it will up the smoking ban to include eight of 14 halls
"There will be no more ashtrays in the halls; rather, they will remain outside, and we'll announce the move with placards on-site as well as with pre-show information, including in the newsletter and with press releases," Tobias Groeber, project manager for the outdoor, ski and run areas, told SNEWSÂ®.
"Slowly but surely, we'll expand the smoking ban to include the entire expo halls," he said, adding that even the management offices have a smoking ban as of Aug. 1, 2005.
SNEWSÂ® View: We see no reason why a show can't ban smoking, and provide areas where smokers can go, e.g. separate rooms or outside. As we've said in other stories, if Ireland's pubs can ban smoking, airplanes can ban smoking, and many restaurants (even in Italy!) can have non-smoking areas, trade shows can do the same. It's in everybody's best interest and good health. Cheers to the start of a real movement that seems not to have gathered some momentum.