Smokefree Sidelines

Healthy Norwich logoKids copy adult behaviour – so please don’t smoke on the sidelines.

That’s the message in a campaign launched by Healthy Norwich and the Norfolk County Football Association.

Smokefree Sidelines low resLocal youth football clubs are being invited to join the campaign and become smoke free spaces. This means members and visitors are asked to refrain from smoking indoors and outdoors, anywhere on site, including all playing fields and especially the pitch side lines.

If mums and dads are seen smoking as they watch their children play a game, it sets a bad example. So the good thing to do is either walk away or better still, quit altogether.

  pdf Download the Smokefree Sidelines infographic poster here (47 KB)

The Chair of NHS Norwich CCG, Tracy Williams, said: “Children are influenced by what they see, they copy what adults do and young people are most at risk of becoming smokers themselves if they grow up in communities where smoking is the norm. The most effective way to prevent young people from becoming smokers is to encourage adult smokers to quit and to remove young people’s exposure to smoking.”


Smokefree Sidelines has been developed by NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group as part of its Healthy Norwich programme, in close partnership with Norfolk County FA.

It is accompanied by a hard hitting graphic that helps parents understand why going smokefree is so important.

  • Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in Norfolk
  • Approximately 1 in 6 people in Norfolk are smokers
  • Children who grow up with a parent or family member who smokes are three times more likely to start smoking themselves.
  • A worrying 40% of smokers started the habit aged 16 or under

Norfolk FA Chairman, Michael Banham said: “We’re delighted to be able to provide support to such a worthwhile initiative that can have a real positive impact on the lives of Norfolk’s youth footballers.

“The statistics send a clear message and I’m glad that Norfolk FA can be a part of a drive to reduce the number of smokers in the County, in particular those starting at a young age due to the exposure they receive.”

James Wade, from Smokefree Norfolk, added: “Around 35% of children who smoke start around the age of 12 years with 90% of those children starting smoking because a family member does or because they feel peer pressure from their friends. 

“Secondhand smoke has been proven to be 85% more toxic than smoking and is full of toxic chemicals which can cause cancer and other lung or heart diseases, so this campaign will keep reminding people of the effects of tobacco addiction and their actions.”

Smoking often starts as a childhood addiction and evidence has shown that most adult smokers started smoking at a young age. This means that taking up smoking is a decision made by children, but one that affects them and their loved ones for the rest of their lives.

It is a common misconception by young people that they can experiment with cigarettes without getting addicted. Children often show signs of addiction after 4 weeks of smoking. In a year it is estimated that 2,861 Norfolk children will start smoking, this means that each day 8 children will begin smoking and 56 children every week. This is equal to having two classrooms full of Norfolk children becoming smokers every week - a clear call to action.

Being a smoke free sports club is not about unfairly targeting smokers. Rather, it is about promoting your sports club as a healthy and inclusive place, where the wellbeing of all, and particularly children and young people, is a priority.

Smokefree Sidelines is an important next step for the Healthy Norwich campaign, which is a partnership between NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group, Norwich City Council, Norfolk County Council (Public Health) and Broadland District Council.

Last year, Healthy Norwich worked together to designate 85 children’s play parks as Smokefree.

If you – or anyone you know – smokes and would like NHS support to quit then you can search online for Smokefree Norfolk or call 0800 0854 113.